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Report/Press release

Tragedy at Mayfair Farms

Date

2009

Authors

Agriculture Workers Alliance

Abstract

The death of a Manitoba farmer and the injury of three workers on Monday “is a tragic reminder that farmers and farm workers face hard, unpredictable, and dangerous working conditions everyday,” says Wayne Hanley, the National President of UFCW Canada.

Series title

AWA E-News

Responsible institution

Agriculture Workers Alliance

Full text

The death of a Manitoba farmer and the injury of three workers on Monday “is a tragic reminder that farmers and farm workers face hard, unpredictable, and dangerous working conditions everyday,” says Wayne Hanley, the National President of UFCW Canada.

On Monday, Scott Giffin, a 48-year-old owner-operator of Mayfair Farms in Portage la Prairie, along with three agriculture workers at the farm were pinned under rubble after a section of a warehouse roof collapsed on them. Giffin was killed. The three workers with him survived. Two were treated for injuries, and the third remains in hospital in stable condition. Twelve other workers at the other end of the building escaped unharmed.

It is believed a build-up of snow and freezing rain caused the roof to collapse.

Last June, Mayfair Farms was also in the news after it became the first farm ever in Canada to sign a union collective agreement covering temporary workers from offshore. UFCW Canada Local 832 represents workers at the farm.

“On behalf of UFCW Canada I would like to extend our sincerest condolences to Mr. Giffin’s family for their loss,” said Hanley. “Canadians must realize and appreciate the risks, dangers and hardships that farmers like Scott Giffin, as well as farm workers face day in and day out in providing us our food.”

“While Mr. Griffin’s death may not have been preventable, most farm deaths and accidents are,” says Robert Ziegler, President of UFCW Canada Local 832. “Strong provincial health and safety regulations covering farms is part of the solution. So is an agreement where agriculture workers can speak up about their safety concerns without fear of reprisal.”

“The tragedy is that all these protections are in place at Mayfair Farms but even the best measures can’t prevent the cruelty of Nature,” said Ziegler. “So it is a very sad time for the Giffin family and our members at Mayfair, and our thoughts are with them.”

UFCW Canada Local 832 is providing post-traumatic counseling to the Mayfair workers. The local union is also working with Mexican consular officials, the Manitoba Workplace Safety and Health Division, and the Office of the Fire Commissioner as an inquiry into the tragedy gets underway.

Links

Economic sectors

Agriculture and horticulture workers

Content types

Policy analysis and Documented cases of abuse

Target groups

Public awareness

Regulation domains

Labour standards and Health and safety at work

Geographical focuses

Manitoba

Languages

French, English, and Spanish