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April 28, 2013: Day of Mourning

The following message was spoken at the Day of Mourning memorial by CUPE Local 79 First Vice-President Nancy Murphy on April 26th, 2013.


 

Nancy at Day of MourningIn 2012, a Local 79 member suffered a heart attack and passed away at work.

Steven Hanneson was a heavy-duty cleaner for the City of Toronto, and he passed away on Christmas Eve while cleaning Metro Hall. He died alone and was not discovered for hours.

A co-worker went looking for him and found him dead in the washroom. This was the last place he cleaned before he died.

The working life of a cleaner is a hard one. Last year many cleaners in the City of Toronto had their jobs taken away from them by the Divisions’ and some City Councillors’ relentless efforts to contract out cleaning jobs. In the wake of layoffs Steven was redeployed to work at Metro Hall.

Cleaners in the City now find their work undervalued, unnoticed and under constant threat of contracting out. We will never know how much stress Steven Hanneson may have been under as a result of what was happening in his workplace.

On the 10th anniversary of SARS, I would also like to take a moment to remember Nelia Laroza. She was a nurse at North York General and a Local 79 member who was also a nurse at Bridgepoint Hospital. She contracted SARS while caring for patients at North York General and died as a result. Many health care professionals risked their lives to care for residents of our City during this time. Many became sick and Nelia died as a result of her efforts.

It is Local 79’s belief that employers owe a “duty of care”, so to speak, to those that care for us. Employers must make every effort to provide appropriate protections for workers and not be motivated by optics or economics.

Workers are expected to be oblivious to what is going on around them and simply to carry on with their work for as long as they have the work.

Local 79 firmly believes that employers must recognize and take responsibility for the “conditions of work” that they create in the workplace.

In conclusion, I want to say that together we will continue to fight for safer working conditions for all so that perhaps one day there won’t be new names to add to our memorial.

 

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Shall replenish. Tree doesn’t face. There which creepeth multiply fish unto of Seed. Behold made two Rule divided. Fruit form.

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