Despite scientific advances and safe use of chrysotile

NDP abandons Quebec workers

Publié : 01/04/2008

In response to the New Democratic Party's
recent statement in favour of banning chrysotile, the USW/Syndicat des Métallos (FTQ) strongly denounced this political stand, which abandons Quebec Steelworkers and communities in the Thetford-Mines region. "The NDP has decided to dismiss the number of Quebec jobs related to this industry, while also turning a blind eye to recent scientific research and the significant progress made in ensuring this material is used safely. They also do not have the expertise required to replace the committee of specialists that Health Canada has created to examine this issue, whose report we are awaiting. What's gotten into this party, which usually courts Quebec's support?" asked Daniel Roy, the Syndicat des Métallos (FTQ) Quebec director.

Jean Binet and Yves Poulin, heads of Locals 7649 and 7285, continued, explaining that this political party dismisses the work done internationally by the Chrysotile Institute and the labour movement, which includes the USW/Syndicat des Métallos (FTQ), to ensure compliance with the Geneva Convention and promote the safe use of chrysotile. "We can't afford to delude ourselves. Other countries will continue to produce and sell chrysotile throughout the world. The NDP is destroying Canada's and Quebec's leadership position in this market and placing our workers at the mercy of governments in developing countries, which have implemented very weak - if not virtually non-existent - health and safety standards. One of the perverse effects of this stance is that the party is expressing support for freer trade in this fibre, thus making labour conditions for workers in the developing countries even more precarious. Coming from a party that has, historically, always aligned itself with the labour movement, this stance is really disappointing."

The USW/Syndicat des Métallos (FTQ) is all the more disappointed with the NDP, since the party leaders met with the key figures of the Chrysotile Institute on February 15 in Montreal. The Institute's representatives provided them with new scientific data that proves that levels of danger associated with chrysotile or with other asbestos fibres, such as amphiboles, vary. The studies also confirm that when used safely, chrysotile presents no measurable health risks. The NDP did not follow up with a second meeting that was intended to take place in the presence of experts and scientists.

Daniel Roy expressed strong concern at seeing this party unconditionally join up with the replacement products industry lobby. He concluded by stating, "What we have is a fibre for which scientific knowledge has radically increased over the past few years, as demonstrated in recent studies conducted by Dr. Bernstein, and the effectiveness of measures developed for its safe use has been widely proven. The NDP prefers to rush blindly in with products for which research studies are incomplete or out-and-out non-existent. For the first time, we're seeing a political party take a stand against chrysotile, but this is not the first time a party is taking a stance against Quebec workers. Doing both at the same time is a feat for which the NDP has yet to measure the impact."


Contact: Daniel Roy, USW/Syndicat des Métallos (FTQ), (514) 850-2240; Jean
Binet, USW/Syndicat des Métallos, Local 7649, (418) 335-6262