A message from Kevin Bryenton -Executive Director of Canadian Affairs, Ironworkers International
Good afternoon everyone- hope all is well with your world.
Every year, on April 28, workers, families, employers, and others come together at events held around the country to remember those who have lost their lives on the job. It is equally an opportunity to renew our commitment to creating safer workplaces. Sadly, the pandemic has made those gatherings in person impossible. Notwithstanding those challenges, those solemn events will still be held digitally and most importantly, by each and every one of us.
The work that we do is not immune to workplace injury and death and we begin each year with the goal of zero as the only acceptable number. We have yet to get there so that work continues each and every day.
Over the past 12 months we have had 7 members who were killed on the job across our International including Jailall “Randy” Rasheed, a 20+ year Journeyperson member of Ironworkers Local 721. The loss of Randy and other members leave holes in the lives of children, spouses, friends and parents across our two Countries.
In the Ontario District Council we have also experienced loss of members from drug overdose and suicide which exceed that horrible number over the same timeframe.
As we gather in the various ways to mark the National Day of Mourning we need to consider Mental Health as another formidable danger that we have to make ourselves aware of and develop a way to address. The goal to getting anywhere along the road of assisting members and preventing these events starts with a conversation. I ask all of you to begin that conversation if you haven’t already done so, by making it a safe topic of discussion at your local union meetings and your engagements with our membership across this Country.
As we move beyond tomorrow and toward the 70th Annual CMHA mental health awareness week May 3d-7th, the Canadian Office will be distributing Job-Box Talks on the topic for your dissemination across our working world.
We also need to raise awareness around the many levels of member assistance programs that each local union has at hand to help both our members and their families.
In conjunction with the Day of Mourning the Ontario District Council will be publishing an insert in National Post in addition to various electronic means – the link below is included for your information and digital use.
I thank all of you for everything you have done to keep our members safe over the last 12 months. The global pandemic has truly been a test of your leadership and continues to test all of us as the finish line keeps moving.
As we work together each day we will all get to a point when we can speak to the issues of this time as a rear view mirror conversation. Until then thank you for keeping our members safe and hang in there.