On Wednesday September 25th Enrico Miranda died tragically on the job at Fiera Foods. He was crushed to dead by a machine while cleaning it. This is the fifth death at Fiera Foods since 1999. The first victim was , a 17-year old temp named Ivan Golyashov who was killed when a dough mixer was activated while he was inside cleaning it. Then in 2011 it was Aydin Kazimov who was crushed to death by one of Fiera’s trucks. Two years later, Amina Diaby a 23-year-old woman was killed at Fiera Foods when her Hijab was caught in a machine and strangled her to death. In 2016, a man in his 40s was pinned to death at Fiera Foods while getting stuck between a loading dock and tractor trailer. After five horrific deaths Fiera Foods is still operating in North York at 50 Marmora St.
After Amina’s tragic death a writer for the Toronto Star, Sara Mojtehedzadeh, went undercover as a temporary worker at Fiera Foods to investigate. Mojtehedzadeh found that about 70% of Fiera Food’s workforce was hired through work agencies as temporary workers. This is alarming. In Canada only 14% of workers are temporary. The workers at Fiera Food’s are also not hired for seasonal work which is usually why some companies go through agencies during high-demand seasons. The investigation also showed that temporary workers receive very little training, just a 5-minute briefing, do not get paid for sick days, are discouraged from complaining, are deemed easily replaceable, work long shifts with no paid breaks, and are paid under the table in cash through payday lenders. Workers do not receive pay stubs nor a record of their employment.
This tragedy hits close to home as both my parents have worked as temporary workers for factories before, as I am sure many people in our community have. Fiera Foods benefits from desperate workers who are just trying to survive in our country and Fiera Foods is one of many companies that prey on immigrants and workers of colour who might be too afraid to speak up because they know it might cost them their jobs.
No one should go to work and lose their life. The Star found that “Fiera has been slapped with 191 orders for health and safety violations over the past two decades, for everything from lack of proper guarding on machines to unsafely stored gas cylinders.” Yet they still operate. When the Star arrived on the 25th of September, they found that production had not stopped, and workers had not been sent home amidst the tragedy that caused Mr. Miranda’s life.
On Tuesday October 1st, organizers gathered outside the Fiera Food factory and handed workers pamphlets about unionizing. Security guards asked worked to throw away their flyers at the door. The following day more organizers and over 100 members of the community protested with banners asking for accountability. Workers were asked to not come to the day shift and were not paid for the day. No further details have been given by Fiera Foods regarding the death of Mr. Miranda. They have only stated that “As a company, we are heartbroken and have been focused foremost on supporting the family and our employees through these first few difficult days. At the same time, we are fully co-operating with Ministry of Labour inspectors as they review the accident.”
A GoFundMe Campaign has been started to help cover the costs of the funeral of Mr. Miranda. You can donate at https://www.gofundme.com/f/funeral-help-for-tay?fbclid=IwAR0RKDPR2tuP2ZKQsY3DJNo9EqpzoyAHFn__TV8suPb47_GIddDn6FY1JNs