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Unifor mourns loss of life, pledges to assist in Ottawa train crash investigation

TORONTO, Sept. 18, 2013 /CNW/ - Unifor is expressing its deep sadness for the victims of the accident involving a Via Rail train and OC Transpo bus that took place this morning in the west end of Ottawa.

"I want to express our deepest sympathy to the family and friends of passengers who were killed in this morning's awful crash," said Unifor National President Jerry Dias, representing Via Rail's onboard service, station customer service and maintenance staff.  "Our thoughts are also with those who were injured in this terrible accident."

Dias said that he is proud of the efforts of the onboard staff at Via Rail (Unifor members) who played a critical role in helping passengers in a time of crisis. Passengers were safely removed from the train, with the assistance of Via Rail staff and emergency personnel.

Dias committed the union to working with the Transportation Safety Board in its investigation of the accident. "We will do whatever we can to assist in the investigation. It's our goal to have a safe, well-functioning and accessible network of railways across the country."

Dias also urged that a move away from the use of level crossings, such as the one in the Ottawa accident, be considered. "Level crossings, particularly in busy areas, take a needless toll - including injury and the loss of life. We strongly recommend changes to the use of level crossings, combined with other necessary safety improvements."

No Unifor members were hurt or injured in the crash. Unifor represents 2,100 workers at Via Rail and a total of 9,000 members working in the railway sector.  Unifor was formed over this past Labour Day weekend by the joining together of the Canadian Auto Workers union and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union, representing 300,000 working people.

SOURCE Unifor the union