Equal Treatment

Common decency and downright fairness
demand all ex-Westray employees be treated equally

Equal Treatment

Payments Should be Made Forthwith
to Everyone Who Qualifies

This editorial appeared in
The Chronicle-Herald and The Mail-Star
Halifax, Tuesday, 6 January 1998

Another wrong needs to be made right in the sad saga of the Westray tragedy.

Through no fault of their own, a group of ex-Westray employees has been left off the list of those eligible for a severance payment.

Last week, when the Labour Standards Tribunal ruled that 117 miners are owed $1.2 million because the closure of Westray on May 9, 1992, was preventable, non-unionized staff were left high and dry.

Arden Thompson, one of some 33 non-unionized employees denied severance, says it's only fair his group also be eligible.

The way it stands now, says Mr. Thompson, the only ones likely to receive severance are those whose names the United Steelworkers of America submitted to the province.

"It is unfair that ... the government of Nova Scotia is now considering providing severance payment to some of the employees who lost their jobs but not to others."

We most heartily agree.

The labour tribunal rightly concluded the 117 miners qualify for severance pay. Equal treatment should now be accorded all other ex-Westray employees, whose employment was also abruptly terminated by the tragic explosion.

The tribunal need not reconvene hearings on the Westray matter. Cabinet should apply the decision to all other ex-Westray workers, whether unionized or not.

When Premier Russell MacLellan considers the issue later this week, common decency and downright fairness demand all ex-Westray employees be treated equally.

And not only equally, but speedily – the payments should be made forthwith to everyone who qualifies. Government should not await the sale of assets to obtain the necessary funds.

The province has apologized for Westray, and has promised to undo the damage caused by the mishandled mine development. It's just found another wrong to right.

Go To:   Westray Scrapbook Fifty clippings about the Westray coal mine disaster
Go to:   Main Westray Coal Mine Disaster page
Go to:   Westray Public Inquiry online transcript of testimony
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