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Grief and anger at vigil for migrant workers

Hundreds gather to mourn four workers who died on Christmas Eve

by Tim Groves

Photo: Graeme Bacque
Photo: Graeme Bacque
Photo: Graeme Bacque
Photo: Graeme Bacque

Three hundred people gathered in front of the high-rise apartment building at 2575 Kipling to mourn the death four migrant construction workers who fell to their death when the platform they were standing on collapsed, on the night of Thursday January 7th. They emphasized that the migrant workers place in a position where they can’t stand up for their right without risking deportation, and that workers would still be alive if they had proper training and equipment.


The crowd stood out side and listened to speeches for over an hour despite the freezing cold weather. At least 100 members of the crowd wore hard hats to represent that they were part of the construction trade.  Some residents of the high-rise tower also attended the vigil.  The speakers expresses grief and anger in an event they called "a somber moment".


In the rear of the building the collapsed platform still lies on the ground in an area cordoned off with chain links fencing and ropes are still descending from the roof of the 18 story building  ropes can be seen descending from the roof. On December 24th, six workers stood on the platform doing construction on a balcony on the 13th floor of the building, when the platform collapsed.


Four of the workers died from the fall, Alexander Bondorev, Aleksey Blumberg, Fayzulla Fazilov and Vladimir Korostin. A fifth worker, Dilshod Mamurov, suffered lifelong injuries. A member of No One is Illegal, one of the groups that organized the vigil, told the Toronto Media Co-op that a sixth worker was also on the platform, but their indentity is still unknown. 


While police are investigating the incident, Miranda, questioned how they could get workers to speak to them without a don’t ask don’t tell policy that would prevent police from reporting non status workers to immigration authorities


“We have been saying this all along. Prosecute government officials and employers that put workers’ lives in danger. Ensure that there is no persecution of workers without full immigration status” said Chris Ramsaroop, an advocate with Justice for Migrant Workers. 


“If these workers were trained and had proper equipment they would not be dead” said Patrick Dillon of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario, “16 workers have died [in Ontario] this year, and it happens every year.”  


Earlier in the day members of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees union held another vigil for a non-unionized worker who was electrocuted to death in the Holiday Inn. 

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