Union leader shares hardships facing workers during pandemic on Day of Mourning

Naureen Rizvi, Ontario director for UNIFOR

Naureen Rizvi, Ontario director for UNIFOR, spoke about the importance of honouring those who have died or were injured at work during the Day of Mourning earlier this week. Rizvi is responsible for Northumberland County. She spoke about the impact of the pandemic on working people, the number of workers who have died due to COVID-19, and those who work in unsafe conditions.

The show:

The full interview with bonus material:

Going to work can be deadly. Earlier this week, Canadians took a moment of silence to remember people who died or were injured on the job. It is called the Day of Mourning. What makes this year’s commemoration more significant is the number of workers who have died or become sick from COVID-19.

As these deaths appear to most of us as figures in daily reports, the stories behind them are chilling. While most of us associate outbreaks with seniors’ homes and long-term care, most are actually happening in the workplace. As of this week, educational workers – that is, teachers and others who work in schools – represent the largest number of outbreaks in Ontario. There have been 282 outbreaks at schools. Next, the largest number of outbreaks have occurred in other workplaces. We are talking about manufacturing, distribution centres, food processor, and similar operations. These are line workers, drivers, nurses, and doctors. There have been 240 workplace outbreaks involving hundreds of workers each time. As yet, nobody has firm numbers about how many actual workers have become sick or died.

We all know someone who is working during this pandemic. Whether it is family members, friends, or the cashier at the grocery store. People deemed essential risk their lives daily.

Today’s show focuses on those people. First, there is an interview with Naureen Rizvi, the regional representative for Unifor, one of the largest unions in Canada. She is responsible for Northumberland County. We will talk about the Day of Mourning and the challenges all workers are facing.

Originally aired: April 30, 2021

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