Employees at Sterling Fuels — the marine refuelling facility in Windsor’s west end — have refused work due to safety concerns about practices with train tank cars.
Dino Chiodo, president of Unifor Local 444, said union members at the port facility have been in dispute with the company since late February, when a new segment of work involving the rail line was introduced.
“There were some concerns that needed to be addressed with regards to the new process with rail cars,” Chiodo said on Thursday. “Unfortunately, it has taken the company a long time to recognize the severity of the requests.”
Unifor represents 19 full-time employees and a number of part-time employees at the facility in the roles of marine refuellers, maintenance workers, and general labourers.
Chiodo said the members aren’t off the job — there’s other work to be done in the facility’s daily operations. But members have refused work regarding the specific process since the beginning of March.
Fire inspectors and government safety and environmental officials have been called in after complaints about alleged dangerous practices involving flammable and toxic substances and lack of a fire safety plan at Sterling Fuels in west Windsor.
“This could be Lac-Megantic all over again,” said Unifor Local 444 president Dino Chiodo, referring to the explosion and fire in 2013 when a train carrying crude oil derailed in Quebec.
“We are dealing with millions of litres of highly flammable materials,” said Chiodo, who filed the complaint to the city’s fire department Friday. His union represents 17 workers at Sterling.
The fire department was co-ordinating officials from several government bodies, including Ontario’s Technical Standards and Safety Authority, Electrical Safety Authority and ministries of labour and environment, to inspect Sterling’s site Tuesday.
Politicians and union representatives in west Windsor are calling for action over health and safety concerns at Sterling Fuels.
Unifor Local 444 President Dino Chiodo says 32 recent recommendations from Windsor Fire and Rescue are far from what the company has described as “minor.”
Local politicians and union leaders are calling for a resolution, including senior levels of government stepping in, to address safety concerns at a west Windsor facility.
"An immediate investigation led by the Ministry of Transport who is responsible for this file under the Port Authority Act," said Windsor West MP Brian Masse. "Marc Garneau has the capability and has the mandate to act to ensure the public is rest assure