Safety concerns persist at National Steel Car’s Hamilton,

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The approximately 1,200 workers at the National Steel Car plant in Hamilton, Ontario are still reeling in the aftermath of the death of a co-worker in early June. Quoc Le, a 51-year-old welder, was crushed to death by a bulkhead in a horrific accident June 6.

Workers protesting outside National Steel Car in Hamilton, Ontario on Thursday, June 9 [Photo by Hamilton and District Labour Council ]

The freight car manufacturing plant has been the site of three workplace deaths, including Le, over the course of the past year and a half. Lax safety standards and the rapacious pursuit of profit at all costs have resulted in the plant becoming one of the most unsafe workplaces in Ontario.

National Steel Car has been able to endanger workers’ lives with the full complicity of successive provincial governments. The Ontario Ministry of Labour inspected the plant at least 221 times between June 1, 2017 and June 9, 2022. Remarkably, 75 of these visits occurred between June 3, 2021, and June 3, 2022. The ministry issued 78 orders against the company during this period. While the Ministry of Labour is tight-lipped about how National Steel Car compares with other workplaces in Ontario in this respect, United Steelworkers (USW) Local 7135 says that inspectors have told them that there are more incidents there than any other facility in the area.

The WSWS recently interviewed a worker at the plant, who asked to remain anonymous due to fear of company reprisals. Commenting on Le’s death, the worker said, “As far as the Ministry of Labour orders go, the company has a right to appeal any order they deem as ‘onerous.’