By Kevin King
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to attend our UNE National Convention in Toronto, it was an opportunity to renew friendships and forge new ones. We debated issues important to ourselves, and more importantly, members we represent.
There were a lot of activities near our convention site, the Royal York Hotel on Front Street, and delegates and guests made use of the facility and the many locations around it.
On the first morning of proceedings, I went out along Front Street, walked about three blocks or so, and came to a monument for workers killed on the job in Ontario between 1900 and 1999.
The Tribute called the WSIB Simcoe Park Workers Monument, located directly across from the Toronto Metro Convention Centre, near Spadina Avenue,
Two separate pieces of work combine to make this monument. The first is called 100 Workers and it consists of two long, low walls made out of polished red granite. On the top of the walls are 100 bronze plaques, engraved with the name of a worker who died in a workplace accident. There is one worker named for each year from 1901 until 1999. The plaque for the year 2000 has been left blank.
The second part of this monument is called The Anonymity of Prevention. This is a bronze sculpture of a man, dressed in work clothes and wearing full safety gear, kneeling on one knee and appearing to chisel into the wall of 100 Workers.
I could not take my eyes of the beautiful stonework that described the names, where they worked, and how they died on the job.
They had families, and I am most certain they expected to be home to those families each and every day after their work was completed.
I wish I had told the convention delegation of this find, three blocks from the hall, and felt a little guilty that I did not share an opportunity to mark our visit with a solemn procession and a dignified remembrance.
Let us go forth and always recognize April 28th, the national day of mourning for workers killed or injured on the job, and make more resolute our commitment as union activists to make our workplaces safe from any workplace hazards or occupational diseases.
National Executive Vice-President
Union of National Employees, PSAC