Friday 27 April 2007

Workers' Memorial Day

Tomorrow (28th April) I will be speaking at an event in Leicester, organised by the local trades council, to mark International Workers' Memorial Day.

The Government must take serious action to combat deaths at work. Over 200 workers were fatally injured at work in the UK last year, including a 14% increase in the construction sector. In the 30 years since the Health and Safety Work Act, over 10,000 people have died at work, only 11 directors have been convicted and only 5 of those have gone to prison.

The current legislation on Corporate Manslaughter is woefully inadequate and deliberately excludes the prosecution of negligent directors. There is a consensus among the trade unions and health and safety experts that we need new legislation to improve workers' safety. A number of unions including Amicus, TGWU, UCATT and others have fought hard to raise awareness, including at a lobby of Parliament on 28th March which I attended.

Meanwhile, the Government is busy sacking staff from the Health and Safety Executive with over 1000 losing their jobs in the past three years. These workers, members of PCS, had a direct impact on workplace safety through enforcement of regulations and the provision of advice to employers. In sacking these staff, the Government's actions are nothing short of irresponsible.

At Labour Party conference, a motion was passed to toughen corporate manslaughter legislation - sadly the Government ignored this and so we have to continue our campaign to prevent more unnecessary deaths at work.