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FFACK Statement on International Workers' Memorial Day - 28 April 2015 #IWMD15
We come together today to collectively remember the dead and renew our commitment to fight like hell for the living.
We ask you to hold all FACK families in your thoughts today. Our loved ones should not be dead. They died in incidents which would have been prevented had their employers simply obeyed workplace health and safety laws. We don’t need this special day to remember them. We feel their loss acutely each and every day, and even more so on special occasions. In the past year such days have included the 16th birthday of a daughter whose dad could not be there to share in it; the Easter Sunday which marked the 9th year that a son, husband and dad had missed out on holding birthday celebrations; the 65th birthday on which a son was not there to share a pint with his dad; or the 17th birthday that a much loved son and brother did not live to see.
All of this pain is caused by employers’ failure to take their health and safety responsibilities seriously. And it is the entirely preventable deaths of all our loved ones that fuels our fight for the living.
In this General Election campaign period, it is a fight we want our politicians to take on because the scale of work-related death, injury and ill health is staggering. 600,000 people each year who die or are injured at work, or who develop a new work-related disease. Huge numbers affected annually, particularly when account is taken of the impact on families, work colleagues and wider circles of friends. And those are the “official” figures. It won’t surprise you to hear the real toll is much higher.
So this is an issue which features large on the election agenda…Right? Wrong! You will struggle to find mention of health and safety in Party Manifestos and yet health and safety permeates so much, if not all, of the other topics they want you to believe them on.
They have plans for a thriving Economy. For the economy to prosper, jobs must be created. To be good jobs, they must be safe jobs!
Would the strain on NHS resources not be eased men like Stevie Delargey and Russ Brand didn’t have to be treated? They asked for a high voltage system to be isolated so they could work on it safely. Their request was refused because Raytheon didn’t want to interrupt production. An electrical explosion occurred and both men ended up engulfed in flames, with one saying afterwards that “The skin was dripping off [his] face like wax.” These men were fortunate to come out of this incident with their lives. But they have gone through years of treatments for burns and post-traumatic stress disorder and have endured lengthy periods without work, perhaps having to rely on the welfare system as a result. All of that could have been avoided had the company complied with its responsibilities.
While the parties go to battle on immigration, workers who have come to the UK to make better lives for themselves and their families are returning home in coffins. Marian Nemit was a 21 yr old Romanian who had only been in his job for 3 days when a wall collapsed on top of him. 44 yr old Slovakian concrete sprayer Rene Tkacik had come here to earn money to enable his daughter to go to university. The Crossrail worker was crushed to death by a tonne of concrete. This Transport project is said to be Europe’s largest construction project. But just in the last couple of months we have heard worrying reports of two trade union members dismissed for raising health and safety concerns, now the subject of a high profile campaign to get reinstatement.
Then, on Law and Order, we see justice delayed and can’t help but see that this leads to justice denied. The family of firefighter Ewan Williamson had to wait nearly 6 years for the case against the Fire Service to get to court. They now face a further wait to find out whether or not a fatal accident inquiry will be held. And in respect of the Battersea Crane Disaster, the families of the two men who died had to wait nearly 6 years for an inquest into their deaths. They have heard this month that they will need to wait until September 2016 for the prosecution of the crane hire company. This will be 10 years on from the deaths of Jonathon and Michael and the delay is being blamed in part on cuts in budgets at the Ministry of Justice.
For the last 5 years, we have been living in a ConDem nation. The only condemnation we want to hear of after 7 May is in relation to the dangerous, life-threatening, life-costing policies of the previous Tory and Lib Dem coalition.
We will continue our fight, our voices growing ever louder, because we don’t want to read about any other Gary Pickerings or Will Pages. Gary died when his head became trapped between the back of his lorry and its tail lift, a case with haunting echoes of Graham Meldrum, whose partner Karen is a FACKer. And Will, he was aged just 22 when he was killed because an unsecured car park barrier crashed through the windscreen of his car. This again is horribly familiar, this time to the FACK family of Kenneth Farr who died in just such circumstances. Will was buried alongside a scan of his unborn child.
And because we hear weekly of new instances of loved ones who die at work or because of work, our politicians and wannabe politicians need to be woken up to the magnitude of the problem. We will be continuing the fight for the living so that other siblings do not have to stand remembering their brothers, so that other mums and dads do not have to stand remembering their sons. And so that other wee nieces and nephews grow up knowing their uncles.
So, join your voices with ours and together let’s make this country a safer place to live and work.
FACK was established in July 2006, by and for families of people killed by the gross negligence of business employers, see www.fack.org.uk .
Founder Members of FACK
Dawn and Paul Adams – son Samuel Adams aged 6 killed at Trafford Centre,10th October 1998
For more information contact Hilda Palmer, Facilitator for FACK: Tel 0161 636 7557
More information on IWMD 15: http://www.gmhazards.org.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/IWMD-resources-2015-Final.docx