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Is The Future Even More Deaths And Injuries At Work?

Unionsafety Web editor, Chris Ingram, gives his personal response to this question and his view of the future for workers in this country:

This year, Sunday 28th April 2013 was International Workers Memorial Day and one during which we remember all the workers across the world who have been killed by their employer’s workplaces and the processes used in making profits for those organisation and businesses which care little for the well-being of those creating those profits.

Pic: WMD bannerAll across the UK, speeches were made, wreaths were laid, and prayers for the families who have lost loved ones in the act of bringing home the money to feed and clothe them.

Further in a week during which workers in Bangladesh making clothes for Primark's vast profit making clothes empire, paid their highest price with their lives; respect was given with a minutes silence at many IWMD rallies.

Events took place of course in the North West, and they will be reported on by Unionsafety over the next couple of days.

But whilst we remember those who have been killed at work, we must also ensure we also do all in our power to prevent even one single death at the workplace. But we have a massive battle on our hands.

Trade Unions and their Union Safety Reps need to gear themselves up for a major campaign not just in defense of Health & Safety legislation in this country, but for the continuance of the HSE and of the Safety Reps and Safety Committee Regulations; both of which this government are now targeting.

This will by necessity mean making the public aware of the risk to them and their loved ones from unsafe workplaces and of the true death and injury figures; at every opportunity we have and in every possible way.

Further and amongst the most important things of all, USRs and their Trade unions need to put Health & Safety at the top of their agendas - and NOW!

Too many Trade Unions still see health and safety as the 'train spotters' version of trade unionism, and a boring subjetc. Fact is they forget that the Trade Union movement was bourne out of the industrial evolution and the necessity to prevent callous employers from maiming and killing their workers!

Pic: jet planeBut, of paramount importance is the issue of false information and denial of reality which permeate the official death at work statistics peddled by the HSE and successive UK governments in attempts to justify their obnoxious claim that the UK is the safest country in Europe in which to work!

The ONLY organisation that USRs, Trade Unions and Health and Safety professionals should be quoting for the true deaths and injury stats is those collated by Hazards!

All other sources are, either by design or by sheer inefficiency of information gathering; are incorrect and do not reflect the true levels of workplaces deaths in the UK and Europe.

To quote Hilda Palmer from GM Hazards this week, via the Face Book group 'We Didn't Vote To Die At Work':

"People are catching on, finally to what the Hazards Campaign has been warning about for the last three years. As soon as those government came to power we knew workers health and safety would be attached and set up the 'We Didn't Vote to Die At Work' campaign and began challenging the attacks.

As inspections were banned, regulations/ACoPs and Guidance cut, the HSE rendered more and more impotent and health and safety blamed for everything from riots to broken Britain' and the lack of jobs and growth, and as Cameron ranted about killing off health and safety culture, we stepped it up to 'Stop it You're Killing us!' Finally as we lose more and more and are driven backwards over a century, people begin to get it..........."

Pic: Hilda PalmerThe great British public have no clue that International Workers Memorial Day even exists, let alone, the true death and injury toll that work brings each year.

So the time has come for the holding of marches through our cities and not just quiet, hidden away rallies in memory of the deaths of workers in the UK and across the world.

For only this, and other major public events will focus the public eye on the dangers from work and the lack of protection being given to the men and women of the UK making profits for British industry and businesses every day.

Union Safety Reps should start the campaign now for the first of these to take place on International Workers Memorial Day 2014! We should also be demanding a public holiday to mark the event!

With the splitting up, and categorising of workplaces, into ‘low risk’ and ‘high risk’ the Government’s next step will surely be to attack the facilities, roles and activities of Union Safety Reps.

This fact needs to be remembered by everyone concerned about health and safety protection whilst at work, and the argument that accidents will always happen should well and truly be responded to and dismissed as fatalism at best, and callous disregard for employees lives at worst.

Pic: RIP workers safetyIf we don’t stop the Tory-led coalitions’ attacks on health and safety, this is going to be the future of the HSE if it is not abolished altogether, and the future for working people in this country - killed with impunity by callous greedy employers and an even greedier and callous government!

The Tories promised the American right – the Republican Party – that when they next get back into power, they will create a UK economy and culture in-keeping with best American capitalist practice.

Even within a coalition government, they have begun already with attacks on employment rights and the privatisation of the NHS, the destruction of the public sector and services, and of course, health and safety legislation with the aim of repealing some 84% of it.

Next will of course be the pullout from Europe which allows them to further abolish employment rights and major health and safety protection legislation developed by the EU, which they cannot totally destroy until then.

The ‘American way’ is always rammed down our throats as the ‘land of the free’, but the majority of American workers are not free at all, nor are they safer at work than anywhere else on this planet!

It is rare for any national media in the UK to report with authority and with respect to the issues involved in workers health and safety protection, but in the USA this weekend, the New York Times has carried two major articles on workplace deaths and injuries: OSHA Needs Support, But Gets Roadblocks, and We Need a Whole New Approach

Rather than reproduce these articles here, it is best for them to be read in full at source, in order not to dilute the very important messages they have for workers and health and safety community in the USA; and by extension here in the UK.
For the 'American Way' is the future for workers of the UK.

Read the full articles here:

Osha Needs Support But Gets Roadblocks

Osha Needs a Whole New Approach

See also: FACK Statement For International Workers' Memorial Day 28 April 2013

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