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'I am deeply sorry,' says Canadian railway worker Tom Harding, 1 of 3 men acquitted in Lac-Mégantic trial

Current News - Mon, 01/22/2018 - 14:53

'I am deeply sorry,' says Canadian railway worker Tom Harding, 1 of 3 men acquitted in Lac-Mégantic trial
56-year-old locomotive engineer spoke publicly for 1st time Monday
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/tom-harding-megantic-trial-statem...

CBC News Posted: Jan 22, 2018 3:27 PM ET Last Updated: Jan 22, 2018 3:40 PM ET

Train engineer Thomas Harding was acquitted Friday, Jan. 19. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

Locomotive engineer Tom Harding was patient, safety-conscious, Lac-Mégantic trial hears
Jury begins deliberations Thursday in Lac-Mégantic rail disaster trial
Tom Harding, acquitted Friday of criminal wrongdoing in the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster, spoke publicly for the first time about what happened Monday.

"I cannot find the words sufficiently to express my sympathies," he said. "I am deeply sorry for my part of responsibility in this tragedy. I assume this responsibility now, and I will always assume it."

Harding read from a prepared statement, surrounded by members of his legal team at their office in Sherbrooke, Que.

Harding went on to thank his family as well as his lawyers.

"I want to thank my family, especially my brother Steve who stayed besides me, and who was present every day of the trial to support me."

He did not take questions.

Play
Tom Harding speaks publicly after Megantic verdict

Tom Harding speaks publicly after Megantic verdict1:13
Marathon trial

Neither Harding nor the other two former Montreal, Maine and Atlantic (MMA) railway workers indicted for their roles in the disaster testified in their own defence in the trial, which began last September.

Harding, ex-MMA operations manager Jean Demaître, 53, and ex-rail traffic controller Richard Labrie, 59, were all acquitted on charges of criminal negligence causing 47 deaths.

Immediately following Friday's verdict, Harding was too overcome with emotion to make a statement, said Tom Walsh, one of Harding's lawyers.​

All 3 MMA rail workers acquitted in Lac-Mégantic disaster trial
A look back on key testimony from trial's first 25 days
In all, 47 people died when a driverless 73-tanker-car train laden with highly volatile crude oil ran down the track, derailed and exploded in downtown Lac-Mégantic early on July 6, 2013.

During the trial, the court heard that firefighters had shut down the lead locomotive's engine about an hour before the deadly derailment, when they were called to extinguish a fire that had broken out in the locomotive's smokestack. Shutting down the engine caused a loss of pressure in the air braking system which was securing the train.

A firefighter walks by rubble on the train crash site in Lac-Megantic, Que., July 14, 2013. (Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)
Lac-Mégantic expert witness describes how fuel-car convoy became runaway train
Much of the Crown's case revolved around the seven handbrakes Harding had applied to the train — whether the engineer had tested them and how many would have been sufficient to secure the train properly.

The Crown argued that all three men failed to carry out their responsibilities on the night the runaway train barrelled into Lac-Mégantic.

Two other court cases related to the rail disaster are unlikely to proceed to the Federal Court of Canada, following an agreement between the Crown and the defence.

Walsh reminded reporters Monday that Harding planned to submit a guilty plea "for his nonconformity with the regulations under the Railway Safety Act with respect to securing rail vehicles."

He said Harding could face jail time as a result.

All parties are scheduled to be back in court Feb. 5.

Jean Clusiault, left, father of victim Kathy Clusiault, chats with rail traffic controller Richard Labrie, Jan. 14. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)
'These aren't killers'

Although some Lac-Mégantic residents found little solace in the verdicts, others met the acquittals with relief — including Jean Clusiault, whose daughter Kathy died in the explosion.

'It broke their lives': Lac-Mégantic residents support acquittals of MMA rail workers

Clusiault said Harding, Demaître and Labrie didn't deserve to be blamed for the fatal rail disaster and explosion.

"These are human beings with families who worked hard all their lives," Clusiault said.

"These aren't killers. We treated them like killers."

Tags: Lac-Mégantic Trialrailway workershealth and safetyrail wreck
Categories: Labor News

Canadian Framed-up Railway Workers Tom Harding, Jean Demaître and Richard Labrie are still not finished justice and will already be back in court in two weeks.

Current News - Mon, 01/22/2018 - 09:42

Canadian Framed-up Railway Workers Tom Harding, Jean Demaître and Richard Labrie are still not finished justice and will already be back in court in two weeks.

http://www.journaldemontreal.com/2018/01/21/les-trois-ex-employes-de-ret...

https://translate.google.ca/translate?sl=fr&tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=...

Tom Harding, Jean Demaître and Richard Labrie are still not finished justice and will already be back in court in two weeks.

After three months of trial, the three ex-employees of the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway were acquitted on Friday of criminal negligence charges against them since the explosion of a train that killed 47 people in downtown Montreal. Lac-Mégantic in 2013.

They are, however, expected at the Lac-Mégantic courthouse on February 5, this time to face criminal charges brought by the federal government.

Conductor Tom Harding and former Transport Director Jean Demaître are charged under the Railway Safety Act.

"These are charges that relate to the number of hand brakes that have been tightened and how to secure the train," says Mr. Harding's lawyer, Thomas Walsh.

"These two things were also the subject of the criminal prosecution, but the difference is that it was alleged that by failing to follow the rules to secure the train, the accused had been criminally negligent," he adds. . That's over since Friday. "

Guilty plea

The lawyer indicates that his client intends to plead guilty to these charges, which could be up to six months imprisonment or a fine of up to $ 50,000.

"We have always admitted that Mr. Harding did not follow all the rules to the letter to secure the train, and that is why we will face [our responsibilities] and record a plea of ​​guilty," he says. -he.

A charge has also been laid against Tom Harding, Jean Demaître and former railway controller Richard Labrie under the federal Fisheries Act.

"It's because the dump contaminated Lac-Mégantic," says Walsh. But I do not think this accusation will stay. "

The other defendants are Montreal, Maine and Atlantic (MMA) Canada, MMA Railway Limited, Robert Grindrod, MMA President, Lynne Labonté, Director General of Transportation, Kenneth Strout, Director of Operating Practices, and Mike Horan , from the MMA leadership in Canada.

The MMA could be fined up to $ 1 million if found guilty.

In addition, the railway company's file will be returned to the criminal assizes of the Superior Court of Sherbrooke on April 3.

A class action has also been filed against Tom Harding, MMA and Canadian Pacific.

Thanks,

Andrew M.P. Weir
TCRC-LE CN Central
Local Chairperson
Division 240 (Sarnia)

2463 Lisa Crescent
Brights Grove, ON
N0N 1C0
Tel: (519) 869-8204
Fax: (519) 869-8754

Tags: Canadian Framed-up Railway WorkersMMA RailwayLac-Mégantic rail wreck
Categories: Labor News

Privatizers Union Busting Tactics After Take-over Of School Bus Operation

Current News - Sun, 01/21/2018 - 20:28

Privatizers Union Busting Tactics After Take-over Of School Bus Operation

http://www.milforddailynews.com/news/20180121/ex-framingham-bus-driver-s...
Ex- Framingham bus driver says schools retaliated against union reps

Pictured are school buses parked at the Framingham Public Schools school bus yard on Fountain Street. Marlene Jackson, a resident of Beaver Street, claims in a lawsuit filed late last year in Framingham District Court that she was unable to land a job with Framingham’s new private bus carrier, Durham School Services, after the company took over the system in 2011. [Daily News file photo/Ken McGagh]
By Jim Haddadin
Daily News Staff

Posted Jan 21, 2018 at 12:01 AM
FRAMINGHAM — A former Framingham bus driver is taking the city to court, alleging the school district blackballed union reps after it privatized bus service several years ago, forcing them out of their jobs in retaliation for a costly labor complaint.

Marlene Jackson, a resident of Beaver Street, claims in a lawsuit filed late last year in Framingham District Court that she was unable to land a job with Framingham’s new private bus carrier, Durham School Services, after the company took over the system in 2011.

Jackson drove school buses for the town from 1989 until the switch occurred, and received numerous safety awards, including recognition for driving more than 16 years without an accident, according to her lawsuit.

After learning of the school district’s plan to privatize bus service, the Framingham School Bus Drivers Association filed a claim with the state’s Department of Labor Relations on May 9, 2011, alleging the town improperly changed working conditions without negotiating with union members.

Jackson — then a senior member of the union’s collective bargaining team — claims in her lawsuit that the state found in favor of the union, determining the town should pay damages. Jackson’s lawyer pegged the cost of the payout at approximately $400,000.

In a separate labor complaint filed by a bus driver several years ago against the union, a state official responsible for reviewing Framingham’s switch to private bus service pegged the settlement figure at $497,000.

Nearly 70 drivers lost their jobs following the School Committee’s decision to fully privatize bus service, which passed by a 5-1 vote. Officials said at the time the School Department could save nearly $300,000 in a single year by hiring Durham School Services, the lowest bidder, to provide both buses and drivers under a new five-year contract.

The schools had previously leased buses, and hired their own staff to drive them.

When Durham took over, only the School Department’s transportation administrators and dispatchers stayed on, though other drivers were free to apply for positions with Durham School Services.

Under the new contract, Framingham retained the right to approve school bus drivers. When Jackson applied for a position with the company in 2016, Durham School Services offered her a job, but she was allegedly denied the spot by the School Department’s transportation director, according to her lawsuit.

Since then, the town has “refused to provide an explanation” as to why Jackson wasn’t hired, according to her suit. She claims none of the union’s lead representatives were approved for new bus driver jobs.

In a two-count lawsuit, Jackson now seeks $25,000 from the city, plus attorney’s fees and costs. She is accusing the town and its transportation director of interference with contractual or advantageous business relations and “vicious liability.”

Efforts to reach Jackson last week for comment were unsuccessful. Her lawyer, Kevin P. Braga, did not return a phone message.

A message left Thursday with Framingham Superintendent Robert Tremblay also was not returned.

Jim Haddadin can be reached at 617-863-7144 or jhaddadin@wickedlocal.com. Follow him on Twitter: @JimHaddadin

Tags: privatizationbussesunion bustingContracting out
Categories: Labor News

USA: When women have a union: What’s next for #MeToo in the workplace

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 01/21/2018 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Salon
Categories: Labor News

Global: Coca-Cola brings the taste of zero rights to the 2018 Winter Olympics!

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 01/21/2018 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IUF
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Brazil: Another rural worker and rights defender murdered

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 01/21/2018 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IUF
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Serbia: Why Djokovic is right to say tennis players need a union

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 01/21/2018 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: The Conversation
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Trump's Shutdown-FAA Inspectors Off The Jobs At Airlines Putting Health and Safety In Jeopardy

Current News - Sun, 01/21/2018 - 11:26

Trump's Shutdown-FAA Inspectors Off The Jobs At Airlines Putting Health and Safety In Jeopardy
https://www.eturbonews.com/175782/government-shutdown-grounds-aviation-s...
Government shutdown grounds aviation safety inspectors
By Chief Assignment Editor -January 20, 2018294

Professional Aviation Safety Specialists

Professional Aviation Safety Specialists, AFL-CIO (PASS), National President Mike Perrone released the following statement regarding the government shutdown’s impact on aviation safety.

“Since President Trump has failed to reach agreement with Congress—not once, but three times since September 30—to fully fund the federal government, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) aviation safety inspectors were off the job as of midnight last night. These PASS-represented employees—more than 4,000—are responsible for the oversight, certification and surveillance of the entire American aviation system, including all general aviation and commercial aircraft, pilots and flight instructors, and repair stations both in this country and abroad. PASS is outraged that the FAA would consider these employees as playing anything but a pivotal role in protecting the safety of the American flying public. Furloughing this critical workforce is neither in the best interest of the economy nor the oversight of the U.S. aviation system.

“For each day the government is closed, aviation safety inspectors will not be providing oversight of commercial and general aviation aircraft, pilots, flight instructors, and domestic and foreign repair stations; conducting in-flight cockpit inspections or ramp inspections; overseeing third-party designees performing critical work on behalf of the FAA or air carriers; or issuing new or renewing current certificates.

“Manufacturing inspectors will not be providing manufacturing production approval and certification, will not be evaluating aviation mechanics, facilities, training programs and equipment, or addressing issues related to manufacturing facilities.

“Modernization of the National Airspace System (NAS) will be stopped in its tracks, with training and progress of initiatives suffering delays and considerable setbacks. Every FAA employee will be impacted by the shutdown, whether it is being forced off the job or continuing to serve the agency and their country without pay.

“Aviation plays a critical role in the nation’s economy and provides invaluable services to the flying public and the military. The aviation system provides $1.5 trillion through the commercial aviation industry and 12 million American jobs. It is crucial that such a major aspect of this country’s economic engine have the necessary financial resources it needs through a stable funding stream for the FAA.

“The safety of the flying public depends on aviation safety inspectors, and this safety should never be compromised, as it will be during this shutdown. PASS calls on members of Congress to work swiftly to end the shutdown and allow all employees at the FAA to get back to work to ensure the safety of America’s aviation system.”

PASS represents more than 11,000 employees of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Department of Defense (DoD) who install, maintain, support and certify air traffic control and national defense equipment, inspect and oversee the commercial and general aviation industries, develop flight procedures, and perform quality analyses of complex aviation systems used in air traffic control and national defense in the United States and abroad.

Tags: Government shut-downAviation safety
Categories: Labor News

Trump's Shutdown-FAA Inspectors Off The Jobs At Airlines Putting Health and Safety In Jeopardy

Current News - Sun, 01/21/2018 - 11:26

Trump's Shutdown-FAA Inspectors Off The Jobs At Airlines Putting Health and Safety In Jeopardy
https://www.eturbonews.com/175782/government-shutdown-grounds-aviation-s...
Government shutdown grounds aviation safety inspectors
By Chief Assignment Editor -January 20, 2018294

Professional Aviation Safety Specialists

Professional Aviation Safety Specialists, AFL-CIO (PASS), National President Mike Perrone released the following statement regarding the government shutdown’s impact on aviation safety.

“Since President Trump has failed to reach agreement with Congress—not once, but three times since September 30—to fully fund the federal government, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) aviation safety inspectors were off the job as of midnight last night. These PASS-represented employees—more than 4,000—are responsible for the oversight, certification and surveillance of the entire American aviation system, including all general aviation and commercial aircraft, pilots and flight instructors, and repair stations both in this country and abroad. PASS is outraged that the FAA would consider these employees as playing anything but a pivotal role in protecting the safety of the American flying public. Furloughing this critical workforce is neither in the best interest of the economy nor the oversight of the U.S. aviation system.

“For each day the government is closed, aviation safety inspectors will not be providing oversight of commercial and general aviation aircraft, pilots, flight instructors, and domestic and foreign repair stations; conducting in-flight cockpit inspections or ramp inspections; overseeing third-party designees performing critical work on behalf of the FAA or air carriers; or issuing new or renewing current certificates.

“Manufacturing inspectors will not be providing manufacturing production approval and certification, will not be evaluating aviation mechanics, facilities, training programs and equipment, or addressing issues related to manufacturing facilities.

“Modernization of the National Airspace System (NAS) will be stopped in its tracks, with training and progress of initiatives suffering delays and considerable setbacks. Every FAA employee will be impacted by the shutdown, whether it is being forced off the job or continuing to serve the agency and their country without pay.

“Aviation plays a critical role in the nation’s economy and provides invaluable services to the flying public and the military. The aviation system provides $1.5 trillion through the commercial aviation industry and 12 million American jobs. It is crucial that such a major aspect of this country’s economic engine have the necessary financial resources it needs through a stable funding stream for the FAA.

“The safety of the flying public depends on aviation safety inspectors, and this safety should never be compromised, as it will be during this shutdown. PASS calls on members of Congress to work swiftly to end the shutdown and allow all employees at the FAA to get back to work to ensure the safety of America’s aviation system.”

PASS represents more than 11,000 employees of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Department of Defense (DoD) who install, maintain, support and certify air traffic control and national defense equipment, inspect and oversee the commercial and general aviation industries, develop flight procedures, and perform quality analyses of complex aviation systems used in air traffic control and national defense in the United States and abroad.

Tags: Government shut-downAviation safety
Categories: Labor News

USA: What Amazon does to wages

Labourstart.org News - Sat, 01/20/2018 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: The Economist
Categories: Labor News

Lac-Megantic residents say wrong people accused, company responsible for disaster

Current News - Fri, 01/19/2018 - 16:38

Lac-Megantic residents say wrong people accused, company responsible for disaster

http://www.timescolonist.com/lac-megantic-residents-say-wrong-people-acc...

The Canadian Press January 19, 2018

Lac-Megantic residents say wrong people accused, company responsible for disaster

Giuseppe Valiante and Morgan Lowrie

Rail traffic controller Richard Labrie hugs Jean Clusiault, left, father of victim Kathy Clusiault, after being found not guilty on the ninth day of deliberations, Friday, January 19, 2018 in Sherbrooke, Que. One of the most closely watched Canadian trials in recent years ended Friday with the acquittal of three former railway employees who were charged with criminal negligence causing the death of 47 people in the Lac-Megantic tragedy. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
MONTREAL — A Quebec man whose kid sister was one of 47 people killed in the Lac-Megantic tragedy says the three men acquitted Friday should have never been put on trial.
"I think, very sincerely, that since the day of the accident, these people have been living in purgatory and it must have been extremely difficult," Bernard Boulet told The Canadian Press. "I'm happy these three people are free."
A jury found Tom Harding, Richard Labrie and Jean Demaitre not guilty of criminal negligence causing the death of 47 people in connection with the July 2013 train derailment and subsequent explosion.
Boulet says he agrees with the verdicts.
"It was an unfortunate accident," said Boulet, himself a former railway traffic controller. "It was caused by nonchalance and an accumulation of events — by the nonchalance of the (rail company) owner, Edward Burkhardt."
Before and during the trial, defence lawyers and Lac-Megantic residents often brought up Burkhardt's name.
They insinuated it was he who was primarily responsible for the tragedy in his role as chairman of the now-defunct, Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway, which owned the train and the tracks on which it derailed.
Reached by telephone at his office outside Chicago shortly after Friday's verdicts were announced, Burkhardt told The Canadian Press he wasn't surprised to hear people were suggesting he should have been the one on trial.
"There were a lot of people screaming for people — including me — to stand trial and all that," he said.
"The police and the prosecutors made a thorough investigation of what happened and so did the (Transportation Safety Board of Canada), and they concluded (if) there was going to be a prosecution it would be limited to the people that they brought, and I can't say more than that."
Burkhardt became public enemy No. 1 in the days following the crash, when his blunt, sometimes unsentimental remarks drew the ire of the grieving public.
His brief stop in Lac-Megantic is perhaps best remembered for his tumultuous news conference, during which he was heckled by angry locals.
Burkhardt points out he lost his investments in the company's bankruptcy and that he agreed to settle in a civil suit brought against him even though he doesn't feel he was personally responsible for the tragedy.
He did not say how much money he paid in the settlement.
"Everything I'd done with respect to that company was to try to enforce stricter and stronger safety standards, and the fact that it all came unglued that day was just horrible," he said, adding he and everyone involved still lives with the burden of what happened.
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada's investigation into the derailment somewhat contradicts Burkhardt, however.
Its final report concluded, "There were also significant gaps between (MMA's) operating instructions and how work was done day to day.
"This and other signs in MMA's operations were indicative of a weak safety culture — one that contributed to the continuation of unsafe conditions and unsafe practices, and significantly compromised the company's ability to manage risk."
Jean Clusiault, whose daughter Kathy died in the disaster, said he, too, was satisfied with the verdicts.
"The wrong people were accused," he said outside the courthouse in Sherbrooke, Que. "The jury came back with the right verdict."
Clusiault, who followed the trial closely, said the U.S.-based management of MMA should have been charged.
With the trial over, he said, "my daughter will always be in my mind."
Julie Morin, mayor of Lac-Megantic, said neither she nor the citizens of the 6,000-person town thought the three people accused were solely responsible for the tragedy.
"The company, MMA, had a big role to play in this," Morin, who was not mayor back in 2013, said in a phone interview. "It's impossible that three men alone created what happened to us."
What her citizens want to focus on now, she said, is getting a bypass track that would move trains away from the core of the town, something the federal government is studying but has not yet promised to do.
"There is still a lot to do — the entire downtown was destroyed," Morin said.
"There are people looking for financing to start projects, there is a lot of great work being done and it would be nice to get some attention on this rather than the trial."

Tags: Lac-Méganticwrong people accusedcompany responsible for disasterhealth and safety
Categories: Labor News

UK: Stressed-out Anglican priests turn to trade unions for support

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 01/19/2018 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: RNS
Categories: Labor News

UK: Casual workers five times more likely to become jobless than permanent employees, study finds

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 01/19/2018 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Independent
Categories: Labor News

Brazil: Privatization Plans of São Paulo Metro Halted After Strike

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 01/19/2018 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Rio Times
Categories: Labor News

USA: Los Angeles Times newsroom votes for union

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 01/19/2018 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: LA Times Guild
Categories: Labor News

3 former Canadian MMA rail workers acquitted in Lac-Mégantic disaster trial-Railway safety regulations called into question at Lac-Mégantic trial

Current News - Fri, 01/19/2018 - 12:32

3 former Canadian MMA rail workers acquitted in Lac-Mégantic disaster trial-Railway safety regulations called into question at Lac-Mégantic trial

Locomotive engineer and 2 others found not guilty of criminal negligence causing 47 deaths
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/lac-megantic-criminal-negligence-...

By Alison Brunette, CBC News Posted: Jan 19, 2018 2:12 PM ET Last Updated: Jan 19, 2018 3:19 PM ET

Three former Montreal, Maine and Atlantic railway employees were acquitted in the July 6, 2013, train derailment that destroyed parts of downtown Lac-Mégantic, Que., killing 47 people. (CBC)

Alison Brunette is a reporter for CBC Quebec in Sherbrooke, in Quebec's Eastern Townships.
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MMA locomotive engineer didn't cause tragedy, defence tells Lac-Mégantic trial
Defence in Lac-Mégantic trial points finger at Transport Canada in assessing blame for rail disaster
Crown witness lied, defence lawyer tells jury in Lac-Mégantic trial
Lac-Mégantic jury urged to 'use common sense' in deliberations in case against locomotive engineer
'There you have it': Railway expert concludes more handbrakes would have prevented Lac-Mégantic tragedy
'Dozens of people are going to die': Wrenching audio played 24 days into Lac-Mégantic trial
Jurors have acquitted the three former Montreal, Maine and Atlantic (MMA) railway employees charged with criminal negligence causing death in the 2013 Lac-Mégantic rail disaster.

Locomotive engineer Tom Harding, 56, rail traffic controller Richard Labrie, 59, and operations manager Jean Demaître, 53, were all charged after the derailment of a runaway fuel train early on July 6, 2013. Several tankers, carrying highly volatile crude oil exploded, turning downtown Lac-Mégantic into an inferno and killing 47 people.​

There was an audible gasp in the courtroom when the verdict was delivered early Friday afternoon.

Labrie couldn't hold back tears as he described his relief. He said that his thoughts are with the community of Lac-Mégantic.

"I would like to say the people of Lac-Mégantic, what they went through, they showed a huge amount of courage," he said.

"I wasn't intending to cry. But I can tell you it was difficult — it was a long process."

Jury begins deliberations Thursday in Lac-Mégantic rail disaster trial
The eight men and four women on the jury have been deliberating since Thursday morning, Jan. 11, at the Sherbrooke, Que., courthouse, after a marathon trial which began last September.

The jurors have endured countless hours of technical testimony from train experts, heard dramatic audio recordings of emergency workers and railway employees from the night of the explosions, and listened to other former MMA employees called as Crown witnesses describe a work environment with little regard for safety standards and no budget for training.

Quebec Superior Court Justice Gaétan Dumas thanked the jury members for their work, telling them that the case wasn't easy.​

"You are the most enthusiastic jury I have ever seen," he said.

'It looks like the apocalypse': MMA workers didn't fathom it was their train burning, trial hears
Railway safety regulations called into question at Lac-Mégantic trial

Former Montreal, Maine and Atlantic locomotive engineer Thomas Harding leaves the court during a break in the trial in September. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)
Last, ill-fated journey

Harding, who pitched in on the night of the disaster, helping emergency responders detach the fuel cars that hadn't exploded, was the driver of the ill-fated fuel train.

He picked up the 73-tanker car train in Farnham, Que., 60 kilometres southeast of Montreal, on the afternoon of July 5, 2013.

Late that evening, he left the train idling on the tracks in the village of Nantes, 13 kilometres west of Lac-Mégantic, where it was to be picked up by an American crew the following day.

During the three-month trial, the court heard how a fire broke out in the smokestack of that locomotive shortly after Harding left it unattended.

Firefighters arrived and extinguished the fire, shutting down the locomotive's engine and breakers, which disabled the air brakes that were securing the train. Jurors heard that less than an hour later, the runaway train barrelled down the tracks, derailing in downtown Lac-Mégantic. The resulting explosions engulfed the town in flames.

Several of the Crown's 31 witnesses described Harding as an experienced, knowledgeable and helpful co-worker, which the Crown alluded to in closing arguments.

Locomotive engineer Tom Harding was patient, safety-conscious, Lac-Mégantic trial hears

"Despite all comments on Harding, on July 5, he failed to do his job," prosecutor Sacha Blais told the jury.

"A careful engineer would have foreseen the danger."

Much of the Crown's testimony revolved around the seven handbrakes Harding applied to the train, whether the engineer tested them and how many would have been sufficient to secure the train properly.

'There were no brakes': Lac-Mégantic expert witness describes how fuel-car convoy became runaway train

In closing arguments, Harding's lawyer, Charles Shearson, countered that the engineer followed the MMA's general operating instructions.

Shearson listed a number of other factors that contributed to the derailment, including the safety of one-man crews and MMA's failure to conduct a risk assessment on the consequences of parking a heavy fuel train on a slope at Nantes. The Transportation Safety Board's report identified the rail line between Nantes and Lac-Mégantic as the second steepest grade of any stretch of track in Canada.

Jean Demaître, the ex-MMA operations manager was charged with criminal negligence. Richard Labrie, far right, is a former MMA rail traffic controller faced the same charge. (Alison Brunette/CBC)

Accused waived right to mount defence

Harding, as well as the other two accused, waived their right to mount a formal defence to the charges.

Labrie, the rail traffic controller on duty that night, was on shift 200 kilometres away in Farnham, relying on information being provided to him by telephone, his lawyer, Guy Poupart, reminded the jury in closing arguments.

Poupart said the Crown failed to "demonstrate in any way that a rail traffic controller placed in the same position as Labrie and given the same information, would have acted any differently."

Demaître, MMA's senior manager in Quebec, was at home near Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and on call on the night of the disaster. The Crown argued he had been negligent, ignoring complaints about the lead locomotive's mechanical defects.

"A supervisor should have ensured all safety," Blais concluded.

Demaitre's lawyer, Gaétan Bourassa, urged the jurors to distinguish between his client's actions and those of his former employer.

"This is the trial of Jean Demaître, not the trial of MMA through Jean Demaître," Bourassa said in his closing arguments.

"There is a tremendous difference."

Tags: Canadian railway workersLac-Mégantic disasterframe-upderegulationhealth and safety
Categories: Labor News

São Paulo Subway Workers on Strike for 24-hours-Public transportation is not for sale. Against the privatization of the metro and the fare hikes.

Current News - Fri, 01/19/2018 - 09:42

São Paulo Subway Workers on Strike for 24-hours-Public transportation is not for sale. Against the privatization of the metro and the fare hikes.
Subway workers in the Brazilian megacity have voted for a 24-hour work stoppage. The strike is against fare increases, layoffs and the privatization of the subway.
http://leftvoice.org/Sao-Paulo-Subway-Workers-on-Strike
January 18, 2018

On Wednesday evening, São Paulo subway workers voted to strike for 24 hours in protest against the privatization of the subway system. There is already one privatized subway line in the city. On Friday, two more lines will go up for sale. This would mean divisions among subway workers, with some employed by the state and others by private companies.

Subway workers are among the most visible and combative sector of Brazil’s working class, having gone on strike more than once in the past year. As the São Paulo government, following the lead of the national government, prepares new austerity measures this year, the privatization of the metro is an attack on a well-organized group of workers. According to Datafolha, seven out of ten Brazilians are against the privatization plans.

The strike is also against planned fare hikes, which have brought about large mobilizations in São Paulo in recent years. Some of these mobilizations have been brutally repressed by the police.

São Paulo is the largest city in Brazil with almost 12 million people. The subway system is the second largest in Latin America, with a length of almost 50 miles, transporting 4.6 million people every day.

Subway lines stopped today

Arbitrary layoffs and political persecution of subway workers are yet another reason for the strike. Two months ago, three workers were fired — one due to health problems and “low productivity” and two as political retaliation for fighting against subcontracting in the subway.

This comes in a context of a massive economic crisis in Brazil, as well as a series of austerity measures passed by the right-wing federal government that strip the working class of basic rights won over decades.

Despite the inconveniences for commuters, on Thursday morning the strike received a great deal of support from the working population. At several pickets where workers explained the reasons for the action, they were greeted with applause. Popular musicians such as Ratos de Porão also spoke out in favour.

Public transportation is not for sale. Against the privatization of the metro and the fare hikes.

Tags: Sao Pauloprivatizationsubway strike
Categories: Labor News

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