embargo - 1 January 2012 Back to news
FACK sends Say it with Flowers New Year card to Cameron, Clegg, Cable and Grayling
FACK's new year message: "Sod you Cameron, sod you Clegg, sod your cruel immoral government"
10 Downing Street,
1st January 2012
Dear David Cameron,
For the New Year we are ‘Saying it with Flowers’: Your deregulation of health and safety, and slashing of its enforcement will kill and injure many more workers and destroy more families like ours. PLEASE STOP NOW!
It is with great regret that we send you this floral tribute for the New Year. It is not an honour to receive it, and we do not send it with any joy in our hearts, but with desperation, anger, and sadness because we feel your government has treated us, and workers’ lives, with massive disrespect and contempt.
We are families of people killed at work or by work activities, not in freak, unavoidable accidents but because the employer/business did not value their lives sufficiently to comply with basic health and safety law, and because employers are allowed to get away with non-compliance as health and safety enforcement is too lax, underfunded and undermined by government. Before it happened to us, we tended to believe the tabloid lies about the UK’s ‘best in the world’ stringent health and safety culture and zealous enforcement. After it happened we quickly learned that many more are killed by work than are reported, and just how non-compliant, how ignorant, and how utterly negligent employers could be without incurring any enforcement action, let alone manslaughter charges when they killed at work as this is not viewed as a real crime by the criminal justice system.
Corporate and gross negligence manslaughter charges for workplace deaths are extremely rare, and a prosecution for health and safety breaches frequently results in paltry, insulting fines. We learned that far from health and safety being over the top, over-enforced by ‘nazi inspectors’ and employers being too ‘risk averse’, many are only too relaxed to take massive risks with the lives of their workers and others who may be affected: 75 per cent of deaths and major injuries at work are due to employers’ failure to manage health and safety. What we learned shocked, appalled, then angered us and we set up FACK in 2006 to campaign against the system that allows some employers to put their workers and members of the public at such risk and yet face such ‘light touch’ enforcement action and lenient, non-deterrent penalties.
After much hard work since the last election, we now know that your government is not prepared to listen to the reasoned, logical, evidence-based argument that it is good regulation backed by strict enforcement plus trade union organisation and safety reps that makes workplaces safer and healthier. This is what prevents workers being killed simply for going to work to earn a living, and which is what your government regularly exhorts, but which, due to your policies and attacks on health and safety, gets more and more dangerous.
We have watched your attacks on workers’ safety and health unfold in horror, and have tried to use evidence and facts to show the dangers of these. We have exposed the myths and lies used to justify these attacks, for example that the ‘burdens on business’ claim is false as the real burden is on us and 75 per cent of the cost of workplace injuries, illness and death is externalised onto the whole of society; ‘excessive enforcement’ does not exist as there were not enough inspectors or resources for preventative policing of our workplaces before your cuts; and there is no compensation culture’ when many families of killed workers get no financial recompense at all.
We have opposed, with evidence, the 35 per cent cut to the HSE budget turning it from a front-line preventative service into a reactive rump that arrives with the ambulance; the Lord Young review which falsely classified many workplaces as ‘low hazard’; Chris Grayling’s 33 per cent cut in the already pathetically low levels of proactive inspections that prevent incidents; the destructive Red Tape Challenge leading to Vince Cable’s and Nick Clegg’s recent attacks on regulation and reducing enforcement agencies to toothless mice. The re-emergence of the phrase ‘light-touch regulation’ which led to the current economic disaster, sends a chill down our spines, as we know when applied to health and safety it heralds more deaths.
You, your deputy, your ministers, Chris Grayling and Vince Cable, and your adviser Lord Young, continue to ignore all the facts including the latest evidence based Professor Lofstedt review. Professor Lofstedt reported that he found no evidence of the need for a radical shake up in health and safety legislation, yet still your government rushes ahead with the demolition of enforcement and slashing of ‘half of the regulations’, and you all keep up a steady flow of unjustified attacks on the safety net that protects workers at work.
We write to remind you that it was not too much regulation and enforcement that killed Mark, Samuel, Andy, Michael, Lewis, Andrew, Annette, Craig, and Graham - and that's not to even mention the many, many others who have died since you have come to power - but far too little of either. They were all killed simply for going into workplaces, killed by negligent employers who flouted health and safety laws, and, because of the collapse in enforcement and lenient treatment of employers for killing workers, had far too little fear of enforcement action to do the right thing.
We cannot understand how any intelligent person, in possession of the evidence as Professor Lofstedt was, can conclude as your government continues to do, that giving such employers even more leeway, even less regulation, even less preventative inspection and enforcement, can do anything but put more workers’ lives and health at risk. To put faith in all employers to just ‘do the right thing’ is not logical, not based on the evidence but is a form of magical thinking and a belief in fairy tales and an abdication of governmental responsibility.
It isn’t just a few rogue companies who kill workers by flouting the law, but big household name companies, many of which are serial killers such as BP, Corus (now Tata), Biffa, and most recently UK Coal which has just been prosecuted for killing four men in separate incidents, and has three more fatalities under investigation! Despite their negligence, they have not been fined out of business, but treated leniently because they have financial problems and their share price is down!
No wonder the death rate in mining is now over 4 times what is was in the 1980s, and 60 times higher than the all industry total. We need jobs of course but they must be safe jobs, healthy jobs and good jobs. Your government’s actions are putting the lives of people like us at risk, but of course your families will rarely if ever face such risks. Or at least, so you might think. It is not only workers who are killed, but also members of the public, like little Samuel Adams who died aged six when he was crushed by an unrestrained railing on a day out with his family to the then newly opened Trafford Centre in Greater Manchester, due to breaching of health and safety regulations.
At least Professor Lofstedt showed us respect, met with us, listened to our stories, was shocked by what he heard, and included a lot of our evidence in his report. Mr Grayling, your minister responsible for dismantling the health and safety protection system, told us he was too busy to meet us, the victims of workplace health and safety crimes, yet he had plenty of time to meet all those who will benefit from reducing regulation and enforcement, the corporate and business lobby, the very groups whose unregulated, unrestrained, self enriching activities have brought financial ruin to families all over the UK. Unlike other victims of crime, to which your government is sympathetic, we have the misfortune to be the victims of corporate crime, and the corporate lobby has your good ear, while you turn the deaf ear to us. Your actions suggest you are the government of the 1% for the 1% and to hell with the 99% which is all of us.
Families of those killed by negligent employers like us, unlike the corporate lobbyists, have no money to offer, we only have our bodies, and our lives, and all we want are safe, healthy workplaces, which all the evidence shows are achieved by good regulation, strictly enforced. We feel you have sold workers lives and our health to the corporate lobby and this will inevitably lead to more families having to make what we call ‘The FACK ing journey of hell’, which starts when someone you love goes to work and never comes home again. We implore you to listen to us, and stop the wholesale destruction of workers’ protection now, or have even more blood on your hands.
Yours in anger and sorrow as we spend another Christmas without the people we love, Founder Members of FACK, established in July 2006, by and for families of people killed by the gross negligence of business employers.
Dawn and Paul Adams – our son Samuel Adams, aged 6 was killed at Trafford Centre, 10th October 1998 due to a breach of the Construction Design and Maintenance Regulations: http://www.hazardscampaign.org.uk/fack/about/samueladams.pdf
Linzi Herbertson –my husband Andrew Herbertson, aged 29, was killed at work in January 1998: http://www.hazardscampaign.org.uk/fack/about/andrewherbertson.pdf
Mike and Lynne Hutin –our son Andrew Hutin, aged 20, was killed at work on 8th Nov 2001: http://www.hazardscampaign.org.uk/fack/about/andrewherbertson.pdf
Mick & Bet Murphy –our son Lewis Murphy, aged18, was killed at work on 21st February 2004: http://www.hazards.org/2young2die/#lewismurphy
Louise Taggart –my brother Michael Adamson, aged 26, was killed at
work on 4th August 2005: http://www.hazardscampaign.org.uk/fack/about/michaeladamson.pdf
Linda Whelan –my son Craig Whelan, aged 23, (and Paul Wakefield), was
killed at work on 23rd May 2004:
Dorothy & Douglas Wright –our son Mark Wright, aged 37, was killed at
work on 13th April 2005:
And on behalf of the families of many, many more who have died since May 2010.
See our stories on FACK website at: http://www.fack.org.uk/aboutus; and on our DVD:“Face the FACKS: the human face of workplace
killing“, £10 from firstname.lastname@example.org
FACK met Professor Lofstedt on 25th July and our response to the
Lofstedt Review is at http://www.hazardscampaign.org.uk/fack/news/lofstedtresponse.pdf
Rt Honourable Nick Clegg MP, Deputy Prime Minister,
Rt Honourable Chris Grayling MP, Minister for Employment, DWP
Rt Honourable Dr Vince Cable MP, Secretary of State for BIS