for immediate use - 28 April 2016 (Back to news releases)
FACK Statement International Workers' Memorial Day 28 April 2016
This year’s International Workers’ Memorial Day theme centres on strong laws, strong enforcement and strong unions. And in support of that theme, we ask that you acknowledge the strong FACKers. These are mums, dads, wives, partners, siblings, sons and daughters, whose strength has to be displayed in so many ways because their loved ones left for work one day, never to return.
Their strength in coping with the sudden, unexpected and untimely loss of a loved one. Their strength in battling with the justice system seeking justice for those loved ones. And the strength of their heartfelt testimonies, which must be heard so that people understand the need for:
Because, from where do you draw the strength to cope with going to pick your 16 year old son up from work, only to find two police officers waiting at the entrance? They are there to begin an investigation as your son is dead, killed working on an industrial lathe, the guards for which had been deliberately disabled. You would need to ask Cameron Minshull’s mum Joanne where she finds that strength.
You could then turn to Tracey Seward, wife of Mark, who arrived home from dropping her toddler daughter off at her parents to find the police car outside her home. At a recent inquest the jury returned a verdict of accidental death, but with a narrative that made clear that Mark’s death was due to lack of health and safety knowledge, training, risk assessments, method statements and a manual for the pump he was working on. All of which should have been a given. Tracey will tell you that “Things were just perfect. We had just met, got married, were in love and had a baby. Life was just perfect…and now its rubbish. I never thought I could feel this bad about anything.”
And this bad feeling affects all happy occasions because there is always an empty chair. As Dorothy, mum of Mark Wright wrote recently – “Mark, I thought of you on waking up this morning as I do often. 11 years ago today your life was taken from you by your employer and all our lives changed forever…You have missed and have been missed at so many family occasions. Today we will celebrate that you lived.”
Judith Allen, mum of Steven will tell you of the day of Steven’s death “It was my niece’s 30th birthday and we were all due to go out. Sort of changes everything for everyone. I still have her balloon – never got it blown up.”
Where do these families get the strength to rebuild their shattered lives, to once again smile and laugh on family occasions, to set to one side their absolute right to feel angry and bitter about the fact their futures have been changed beyond measure, and reflect fondly on what could have been?
Kenneth Farr’s daughter Jess recently wrote poignantly on Facebook: “Today would have been your 51st birthday. I always wonder what it would be like if you were still here with us and how different life would be. I wish you could have been here all these years to teach me things like how to ride a bike or learn how to drive.” She was in the car with her dad when an unsecured car park barrier crashed through the windscreen. Where do her and her mum find the fortitude to cope with knowing that other near identical deaths have occurred; to this month have made contact with Suzanne Williams, whose husband Brian was killed by a barrier when she was 38 weeks pregnant with their third child; and Rachel Cross, partner of Will page, who died the day after he told his family they were expecting their first child.
Joining their voices, they will re-double their efforts to raise awareness of the dangers of these barriers, to stop others from suffering as they have…and as they will always continue to do.
Because FACKers will tell you that often you need to find the strength simply to get out of bed of a morning. That is true of Kathyrn Pallier who has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after the death of her son Ben. “I am not living, I am just existing. I spent 19 years raising and loving my boy, making sure he was happy, safe and loved, and to have him taken away from us and knowing he is in the ground and I will never see him again it doesn’t seem real.” Her partner Paul adds that he “never dreamed that grief gets harder. I thought with time it gets easier, but every day without answers is destroying Kath.” And Ben’s younger sister Sophie, she says having “my best friend disappear has destroyed me and there will always be a part of me missing.”
The FACKers want to wake politicians up to the fact that deregulation of health and safety must be reversed, that laws must be bolstered so that safety criminals fear being caught and so are deterred from continuing their unsafe and deadly practices. They want our enforcement authorities to commit to proactive, preventive inspections so that unsafe situations are stopped before someone is killed, whether undertaken by a Health and Safety Executive with teeth, or by roving safety reps.
They want support from all quarters for our Hazards Centres, whether in Manchester, London or Scotland, because they act to prevent death, injury, illness and the ensuing heartaches. And they want unquestioning recognition that union workplaces are safer workplaces, providing better rights and greater protections for safety reps, rather than the current downright dangerous Tory proposals at Westminster.
The FACKers, they shouldn’t have to be strong – but they are strong beyond measure. They shouldn’t have to find the strength to speak truth to power – but they will continue to do so because they remember their dead and fight like hell for your living.
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:
For more information and to support FACK, contact Hilda Palmer, Facilitator for FACK: Tel 0161 636 7557