Work stops at the Olympic Village

Just after dawn Tuesday, April 28, a solemn procession wound its way around the Vancouver Art Gallery bearing coffins. It was the BC Federation of Labour’s annual commemoration of the Day of Mourning, set aside for 24 years to remember those workers who have died on the job as the result of work-related injury or disease.

sidhu-april-28

Jagjeet Sidhu, whose wife died in the crash of a farm contractor's van on Hwy. 1 in 2007, addresses the BC Federation of Labour Day of Mourning ceremony in Vancouver, April 28. J0sh Berson photo.

A keynote speaker this year was Jagjeet Sidhu, whose wife Sarbjeet was one of three killed and 14 injured in the 2007 crash of a contractor’s van on Highway 1 near Abbotsford. Hundreds of farmworkers demonstrated earlier this month demanding action to protect workers in their industry from workplace injury, but Liberal Labour Minister Ian Black refused to meet with them.

“Three young children every day miss their mother,” Sidhu said. “The government has yet to meet with us to ensure conditions for farmworkers are made safer. We have waited long enough for justice.” The driver of the van in which Sidhu’s wife died was fined $2,000 and lost her licence for a year.

Mayor Gregor Robertson and I made our way from Georgia and Hornby to the dusty square at the heart of the Olympic Village, where 1,400 workers stopped work at 10 a.m. for a similar commemoration. Saftey has been a priority at Millennium’s complex site, a tribute to the efforts of all concerned.

Fourteen hundred workers at Millennium's Olympic Village project stop work for a moment of silence in memory of those who died due to work-related injury or disease.

Fourteen hundred workers at Millennium's Olympic Village project stop work for a moment of silence in memory of those who died due to work-related injury or disease.