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Steelworker Adam Connell tour raises awareness for public inquiry into sawmill explosions

Adam Connell holds up the Steelworkers petition while Ray Keen signs during a recent swing through Nelson. — Submitted photo

The United Steelworkers recently launched a petition demanding Premier Christy Clark call a public inquiry into the explosions of the Babine and Lakeland sawmills.

Adam Connell of the United Steelworkers, touring the region, was in Nelson this week to raise awareness and give locals a chance to sign the petition.

“I believe this is very important to every B.C. resident regardless of if you work in a saw mill or not (to sign the petition),” Connell told The Nelson Daily.

“(I believe) the big issue with this is Work Safe BC,” Connell added.

“I feel Work safe B.C. has not, and is not doing, what it was designed for. It was designed to make B.C. a safer place for everyone.

“It has failed terribly in that department.”

In 2012 Babine sawmill in Burns Lake and the Prince George Lakeland mills exploded, killing four workers and injuring 44.

Connell, a steelworker for the past 15 years in District 3, said workers in Prince George complained before these incidents happened but nothing was done.  

“When Work Safe BC does see a problem they don't shut the operation down and fix it,” Connell, an Executive member for local 7884 as well as a safety rep/shop steward in the Elk Valley, said.

“They just give a warning and say they will be back and next time there will be a fine. It's a progressive discipline system with very small fines.”

“Big company's walk right over Work Safe BC.”

United Steelworkers said Premier Clark promised to provide answers to workers and family members who lost loved ones is not being met by the coroner's inquest.

The union supports a public inquiry because it is the only way to get the full facts of the case and hold people accountable.

“I am doing this tour for the people that were killed and injured in Babine and Lakeland mills and for there families,” Connell said.

“They deserve answers as to why this happened."

“Also because work safe B.C. has failed B.C. Residents by not making our province any safer three years later," Connell adds.  

Connell urges the public to sign the petition to demand a public inquiry so that we can get answers and protect workers from future tragedies.