Monday, September 3, 2007

Westray Minning Disaster- a Poem for Labour Day




















The memorial to 26 steelworker miners killed
in the Westray Mine Disaster
Pictou County, Nova Scotia, May 8, 1992

also see Local 343 United Steelworkers of America















Above : Miners at Westray - Nova Scotia

- Westray Mining Disaster -
by Gordon Coombes

in the name of greed & a few votes
twenty six men left for dead
buried beneath the smoldering rubble
of a coal turned into a fiery furnace
then collapsing in upon itself -

twenty six men dead
officials & bureaucrats wring their hands
fearing for their jobs
look so worried caught on TV
shedding crocodile tears
carrying their insincerity on their sleeves
looking for someone to take the fall
or was it just an act of a cruel mean spirited God
if not who's to blame
call for a press-conference
pull out all the stops
call for an inquiry
call for another Royal Commission
to appease the grieving widows
to appease the orphaned children
to appease the uneducated mob
who should be thankful for any sort of job -


twenty six men dead
surely the governments not to blame
surely the owners are not to blame
surely the stock-holders are not to blame
surely the C.E.O.s are not to blame -

twenty six men dead
not of much worth
just some coal miners
so what's all the fuss
easily replaced -

twenty six men barely mourned
while files & memos are shredded
in the middle of the night
to protect those public servants
& those philanthropic entrepreneurs
for the status quo must remain or all is lost -

twenty six men dead
so bring in the con men & shills
to distract & appease the masses
ignore the facts & bring on the myth
for the mine passed inspection many times
but the fix was in from top to bottom
& the complaining miners were fired or silenced
the dust & gases are too much
an accident a tragedy waiting to happen
ah well non of our own were killed
just the unskilled stuttering lumpen proletariat
so shed a few public tears & mourn the loss of profits -

Having grown up in a mining town I know all too well about the struggle of miners to receive better pay & benefits & to have better & safer working conditions - the attitude of most of the Middle Class towards those who actually work for a living is to see them as being "stupid ", "ignorant " & " lazy " & " troublemakers " who know little or nothing about how Corporations or Governments should work -

The mining disaster at Westray wasn't some unpredictable accident it was a result of a lack of enforcement of mining safety regulations on the part of the company which ran the mine & on the part of Provincial & federal government agencies who were more interested in profits & public relations than they were concerned about the safety of those working in the mine at Westray .

And yet those who were culpable were not tried for committing criminal acts which resulted in deaths ie. Criminal Negligence or Manslaughter - they were not tried because the laws were either too vague or non-existent since the belief has always been that government officials , department heads , inspectors & their lawyers etc. can not be held responsible for not doing the job they are supposed to be doing & corporations are mere paper entities which cannot be jailed or held accountable for their actions - but this is the Capitalist way of doing things - in some ways workers are not much better off than they were in the 19th century when it comes to labour relations & issues of occupational safety- what we get instead are adds sponsored by the Nova Scotia government which infer that workers are the one's responsible for the work related accidents which occur ... so as usual the Neocon Deregulators blame the victime & tell their workers that they should be thankful to have any sort of job - that these jobs are gift to them by the corporations & the Government which is merely a representative of the corporations , the super wealthy & the company's shareholders - the employees as such are of little concern to those in power - and so it goes-

And here is some info from:

Westray Mining Disaster Index

I make this pledge to the families. Westray will not be some vague memory of a tragic accident. It will be a living, active presence in workplaces across Nova Scotia. Your husbands, your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your friends, will never be forgotten. Every time someone wants to cut a corner or bend a rule, we will remind them there can never be another Westray and this government will not allow it.
Minister of Transportation and Public Works
speaking on the floor of the Nova Scotia Legislature, 1 December 1997

In recognition of the grieving families and in commemoration of
the 26 miners who were killed in the Westray coal mine disaster,
we will remember them:
John Thomas Bates
Larry Arthur Bell
Bennie Joseph Benoit
Wayne Michael Conway
Ferris Todd Dewan
Adonis Joseph Dollimont
Robert Steven Doyle
Remi Joseph Drolet
Roy Edward Feltmate
Charles Robert Fraser
Myles Daniel Gillis
John Philip Halloran
Randolph Brian House
Trevor Martin Jahn
Laurence Elwyn James
Eugene William Johnson
Stephen Paul Lilley
Michael Frederick MacKay
Angus Joseph MacNeil
Glenn David Martin
Harry Alliston McCallum
Eric Earl McIsaac
George James Munroe
Danny James Poplar
Romeo Andrew Short
Peter Francis Vickers
We will remember them.


take care,
Gord.

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