In 1992, an underground explosion at the Westray Mine in Plymouth, Nova Scotia, killed twenty-six miners. Although the owners of the mine were charged criminally, no one was convicted, largely because it was deemed too difficult to determine legal responsibility.
More than a decade after the Westray disaster, the federal government introduced revisions to the Criminal Code aimed at strengthening corporate criminal liability. Bill C-45, dubbed the Westray bill, requires employers to ensure a safe workplace and attributes criminal liability to organizations for seriously injuring or killing workers and/or the public. Yet, while the federal government declared the Westray bill an important step, the law has thus far failed to produce a crackdown on corporate crime.
In Still Dying for a Living, Steven Bittle turns a critical eye on Canada’s corporate criminal liability law. Drawing theoretical inspiration from Foucauldian and neo-Marxist literatures and interweaving in-depth interviews and parliamentary transcripts, Bittle reveals how legal, economic, and cultural discourses surrounding the Westray bill downplayed the seriousness of workplace injury and death, effectively characterizing these crimes as regrettable but largely unavoidable accidents. As long as the primary causes of workplace injury and death are not properly scrutinized, Bittle argues, workers will continue to die in the pursuit of earning a living.
Still Dying for a Living will appeal to students and scholars of criminology, sociology, law, and political studies, as well as anyone interested in issues of corporate crime and corporate criminal liability.
- 2014, Winner - Outstanding Publication of the year, National White Collar Crime Consortium (NWCCC)
Steven Bittle’s text is remarkable for being both a forensic dissection of a specific piece of legislation – the Westray Bill – within the context of a specific social issue, corporate manslaughter, while at the same time offering a broader analysis of the ways in which power is exercised in contemporary capitalist economies. Still Dying for a Living is a painstakingly researched and powerfully argued key to understanding our anti-regulatory times. Its analysis and conclusions span national borders and legal cultures.
Bittle examines the aftermath of the Westray disaster to deal with one of the more intriguing problems criminal lawyers, criminologists, and sociologists face. Still Dying for a Living not only tells an interesting story about a drama worthy of public attention, but it also explains how we make laws, how political forces coalesce and confront each other, and how the dominant relations of production contour law making. A well-written and fine contribution to a relatively unexplored field.
This book is timely and needed. Steven Bittle shines light upon the political “solution” to worker demands for greater protection in the workplace and carefully documents the ways in which these demands are sidetracked, both by the dominant legal discourse and by political manoeuvring.
Foreword: The Struggle for Corporate Accountability / Steve Tombs
1 Introduction: What Is Crime?
2 Criminal Liability and the Corporate Form
3 Theorizing Corporate Harm and Wrongdoing
4 Constituting the Corporate Criminal through Law
5 Visions of Economic Grandeur: The Influence of Corporate Capitalism
6 Obscuring Corporate Crime and the Corporate Criminal
7 Disciplining Capital: More of the Same or Hope for the Future?
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