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(en) UK Solidarity Federation - DA #27 - This slaughter must be stopped!

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Fri, 20 Jun 2003 04:54:28 +0200 (CEST)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E

UK construction workers killed in 6 weeks in April/May 2003: 1 death
each in Herefordshire, Bedford, Salisbury, Hillingdon, Staffordshire,
Leicestershire & Leeds. 2 deaths each in Essex & Durham. 3 deaths
in Wales. The youngest victim was just 17 years old.
As Tony O’Brien, Secretary of the Construction Safety Campaign
said: "On average in the UK, 85 construction workers lose their lives
in what the government say are mostly predictable and preventable
incidents caused by some failure of management by employers". If the
current rate of 14 workers killed per six weeks was applied across this
year, we might expect 121 to be killed in 2003, the worst construction
fatality statistic seen in the UK for over 10 years.

But these are not statistics, these are real people who had families
and friends, currently going through the horror of bereavement in tragic
and generally violent ways. The number of Health and Safety
Executive (HSE) enforcement officers operating in construction in the
UK is just 145, which is five short of their own target. These few are
to deal with the millions of construction workplaces. Even the
construction employers, through their Major Contractors Group, want
more inspectors - they recently called for 1,000 to be in place.

But that alone would not be enough, because the HSE’s
enforcement policy is too weak with them, treating our laws more as
guidance than what they are - criminal laws, and the punishment in the
courts is still derisory.

Recently, the courts fined a company just £6,000 for breaches of
safety laws that led to a worker’s death - so, £6,000 is the price
of life at work in the UK today. Add to this the fact that only one
construction employer has been sent to jail for killing a worker, and
there are clearly too many reasons for employers to take risks with
workers’ lives.

The government still refuses to act on the promises it has made to
change the law so that fines in courts reflect the seriousness of the
crimes, and that bosses who negligently kill workers go to jail. They
also promised more resources for the HSE, a better enforcement
policy, and more rights for workers and trade unions to defend
themselves. As usual, it was all lies, and it is down to all of us to take
direct action to win improvements at work.

Contact Tony O’Brien 07747 795954


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