General Electric Peterborough workers urged to get political in push for automatic compensation for victims of 'toxic soup' at plant

Posted
July 14, 2017
Article Source
The Peterborough Examiner

An effort to get compensation for former workers of General Electric who developed cancer after exposure to more than 3,000 toxins in the workplace took on renewed vigour Wednesday night.

More than 120 people packed the small OPSEU offices in the Mapleridge Plaza to talk about getting compensation for these workers from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB).

A recent report says that between 1945 and 2000, workers at GE in Peterborough were exposed to more than 3,000 toxins - at least 40 of which were carcinogens.

The report was written by two retired occupational health researchers, Bob and Dale DeMatteo, with help from 10 retirees from the GE plant, and sponsored by Unifor (the plant workers' union). It was released in May.

On Wednesday, Marion Burton, co-chairwoman of the health coalition, called on the people to get political.

She encouraged everyone to write letters to Peterborough MPP Jeff Leal and to Labour Minister Kevin Flynn to ask for automatic compensation from WSIB for anyone who worked at GE during those years if they later developed cancer.

"Everyone needs to take some political action," she said. "Write a letter - it will take you minutes."

But Jim Dufresne, a retiree from GE who has cancer, was sitting in the crowd; he said that over the last three weeks alone, nine former workers have died of cancer.

"If the Minister (Flynn) doesn't soon do something, there isn't going to be anyone left," he said.

Hundreds of former workers have developed cancer. The report states that carcinogens such as asbestos and benzene were used all the time - and the ventilation was extremely poor, in the plant.

Read more: General Electric Peterborough workers urged to get political in push for automatic compensation for victims of 'toxic soup' at plant