TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 09, 2010
NEWS RELEASE Tuesday November 9, 2010 BC Construction unions urge Quebec Premier Jean Charest to permanently close Jeffrey Asbestos Mine, end mining and export of deadly asbestos products as mesothelioma fatalities rise.
Vancouver – British Columbia construction unions are urging Quebec Premier Jean Charest to permanently close the Jeffrey Mine in Asbestos, Quebec rather than guarantee a $58 million loan to expand asbestos mining and exports.
The BC Building Trades Council, representing over 35,000 construction workers, made its position clear in a letter sent to Charest today asking the province to shut down the mine and end Quebec asbestos exports to developing countries.
Council Executive Director Wayne Peppard says the unusual intervention is a reaction to the deadly toll of asbestos-related cancer deaths that continue to grow among retired construction workers in British Columbia, with a University of BC medical study predicting that 1,500 BC residents will die from asbestos related cancers in the next five years.
“The horrible results of asbestos-related cancers now happening to BC construction workers should never be allowed anywhere in the world,” Peppard said. “The Jeffrey Mine is solely based on exporting deadly asbestos to vulnerable developing countries that have not yet banned asbestos.”
“This is not an attack on resource industries. Construction workers understand and support the extraction of raw materials, but asbestos is different” Peppard said. “We deal with widows and families in anguish, loss and grieving that follows from these pre-mature deaths”
Underdeveloped countries, mainly India, are the primary customers for asbestos products. Lax health and safety regulations and poor safety practices will mean that workers in those countries will breathe in the toxic asbestos fibres. Once impregnated the clock on cancer begins for these workers. Asbestos related cancers will develop years after exposure to the poison.
Letter to Premier Jean Charest: November 8, 2010
On behalf of the 35,000 affiliate members of the BC and Yukon Territory Building and Construction Trades I write to urge you to reverse the policy and financial commitment of the Quebec government that will enable the recommencement of asbestos mining and for the re-opening of Jeffrey Mine.
On November 2, 2010, delegates to the 41st annual convention of the BCYT-BCTC unanimously backed a motion calling for the permanent closure of Jeffrey Mine.
Our delegates did not take this policy decision lightly. Our members understand the need for mines, resource industries, the environmental trade-offs and the health and safety risks involved. Like the workers at Jeffrey Mine construction workers support the extraction of primary resource commodities. Our families depend on the jobs that support these industries.
There’s a difference with Jeffrey Mine. For over sixty years our members have worked with asbestos products; we are now suffering the consequences. Over the next five years many hundreds of our members will die and hundreds more will suffer from the onset and progression of mesothelioma and asbestos related cancers. Construction unions are faced with a growing number of widows and children who are left to deal with the premature death of their spouses or fathers.
Even with the best accident and exposure prevention regulations and the most diligent safety practices construction workers still encounter asbestos and breathe in its deadly fibres. Workers from undeveloped countries who labour in construction are exposed to asbestos on a daily bases. ../2 I urge you to re-consider the commitment of the Quebec government to back the asbestos industry. I urge you to sit down with the federal government to stop funding the Asbestos/Chrysotile industry and to instead use this money to assist with employment transition programs that provide for the workers who will be displaced by closing down the Jeffrey Mine.
WAYNE PEPPARD Executive Director
Copy: Prime Minister Stephen Harper Bob Blakely, Director, Canadian Office Building Trades Department
Resolution unanimously passed at Provincial Convention November 2, 2010
RE-OPENING OF JEFFREY MINE
WHEREAS: On November 1, 2010 an announcement was made regarding the re-opening of the Jeffrey Asbestos Mine; and WHEREAS: The Quebec government will provide up to $58 million in loan guarantees for the new consortium, Mine Jeffrey Inc.; and WHEREAS: Asbestos related fatalities in Canada continue to grow at epidemic rates with over 1,500 deaths predicted in the next five years in BC alone; therefore BE IT RESOLVED: That this 41st Convention of the BCYT-BCTC oppose a Quebec Government bailout of the Jeffrey Mine; and BE IT RESOLVED: That the BCYT-BCTC continue to lobby federal and provincial politicians across the country to put pressure on Quebec to stop the re-opening of Jeffrey Mine; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That the BCYT-BCTC support national campaigns that seek to permanently stop Canada’s mining and export of asbestos and work towards transition employment of the 500 asbestos mine and related industry jobs that will be displaced by closing down Jeffrey Mine.
SUBMITTED BY: The Executive Board of the British Columbia & Yukon Territory Building & Construction Trades Council
For further information contact the BCYT-BCTC office: 604-291-9020