As the Alberta (Canada) Federation of Labor (AFL) sees it, the recent fine given to oil company Sinopec amounts to nothing more than a slap on the wrist.
According to the AFL, the $1.5 million fine will have little or no impact on halting the company from continuing to have in place reported practices that endanger their employees.
During a recent court hearing, the Canadian subsidiary of Chinese oil corporation Sinopec was fined $1.5 million for an incident that led to the deaths of a pair of their employees their lives.
As AFL President Gil McGowan put it, “One and a half million dollars doesn’t even amount to a rounding error in the annual budget of a monstrous global corporation like Sinopec. This fine does nothing to dissuade them from playing fast and loose with the safety of their workforce.”
Imported Third World Health and Safety Standards
The story unfolded when Sinopec and a pair of other companies were charged after a 2007 container collapse resulted in the deaths of two temporary foreign workers at an oil sands project near Fort McKay, Alberta. In all, 53 charges were handed down against the companies, of which Sinopec pled guilty to three charges of failing to oversee the health and safety of its employees.
McGowan noted that “Sinopec didn’t just import workers from the third world, they also imported third-world health and safety standards. Alberta missed its chance to send a message that Chinese companies working in the oil sands need to play by Canadian rules.”
While McGowan added that it might be the largest safety fine in Alberta history, it further demonstrates that Alberta has a long history in failing to aggressively enforce its own workplace safety rules.
The two victims, Ge Genbao, 28, and Lui Hongliang, 33, were just two of the more than 130 Cantonese-speaking workers who were transported from China for the Sinopec oil sands project.
Complete Abdication of Safety Responsibility
“We shouldn’t forget the circumstances that led to the deaths of Genbao and Hongliang,” McGowan went on to say. “The company did not get the construction plans certified by an engineer. The wires weren’t strong enough to hold up against the wind. It was a complete abdication of responsibility on the part of the employer.”
China Petrochemical Corporation (Sinopec Group) is a super-large petroleum and petrochemical enterprise group established in July 1998 on the basis of the former China Petrochemical Corp.
Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com. Contact: email@example.com.
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