Ice bucket challenge leads to unemployment for some ironworkers

Doing the ice bucket challenge at work proved a mistake after five ironworkers at KMP were let go.



“ALS icebucket challenge gets 5 ironworkers fired!” reads the title of a YouTube video posted August 30.

The video, posted by a user going by Corey V,  shows a worker in a safety vest allowing a loader full of icy water to pour over his head, as part of the viral campaign for ALS, called the Ice Bucket Challenge.

For those who don’t know, the Ice Bucket Challenge has people pouring freezing water over their heads, in a way to simulate for a moment the symptoms of ALS, and have those people nominate others to do the same. It’s become a phenomenon of charity fundraising.

But for the people in the video, it proved to be a way out of a job.

The main subject in the video doesn’t name himself, but identifies himself and others as members of the Ironworkers union, Local 97.

Local 97 is involved in the Kitimat Modernization Project.

We haven’t had a response yet from the person who posted the YouTube video, but the description reads “5 ironworkers were fired at Rio Tinto site in Kitimat for performing the ALS icebucket challenge during a coffee break!”

Corey V. does respond in the YouTube comments section, answering someone that “Yes, even though we operate this machinery everyday and made it as safe as possible having the outriggers down and the bucket tied off. There is rules to ‘not be under a load’ and it was on company time even though we spent our coffee break to do the challenge.”

Rio Tinto Alcan itself said that they don’t comment on internal disciplinary matters, “…However, Rio Tinto takes safety extremely seriously. Every day, we are working to create a sustainable safety culture based on leadership and employee engagement. Our goal is to achieve ‘zero harm by choice’ – and when it comes to health and safety, no compromise is accepted, either for our employees and our contractors, which are working closely with us to achieve our goal ‘zero harm by choice,’” said Media Relations’ Claudine Gagnon through e-mail to the Sentinel. “To achieve our goal ‘zero harm by choice’, for many years now, many activities have been implemented (Safety guidelines/risk analysis, site supervision, etc). As a responsible company, it is our duty to preserve the integrity of those who work at our facilities/sites.”

We are also awaiting a response from the Ironworkers Local 97 for comment on this story as well.