Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/939/24855

From The Socialist newspaper, 8 March 2017

1987 Zeebrugge disaster: a consequence of corporate greed

Bosses' profit-driven corner cutting lead to 193 deaths on the 'Herald of Free Enterprise' in 1987, photo by AirSafetyGuy (Creative Commons)

Bosses' profit-driven corner cutting lead to 193 deaths on the 'Herald of Free Enterprise' in 1987, photo by AirSafetyGuy (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge)

Simon Carter

Thirty years ago, 193 passengers and crew drowned off the coast of Belgium after P&O's Herald of Free Enterprise car ferry capsized. One of the dead was seafarer and Militant (forerunner of the Socialist) supporter Geoff Haney.

Years before, Geoff had risked his job to protect three Chilean Socialist Party stowaways, fleeing the brutal dictatorship of General Pinochet, who were caught on board the ship and locked in the hold. Geoff had been politically motivated by events in Chile and his union, the National Union of Seamen, had organised an international boycott against the dictatorship.

In a fitting tribute to Geoff, his sister Sue donated his victim compensation award to finance an office for members of the Committee for a Workers' International (to which the Socialist Party is affiliated) working underground in Chile.

Profit

The Zeebrugge tragedy was no accident. It was a disaster waiting to happen, based on systemic failures by a company driven to maximise profit. In that sense 'Herald of Free Enterprise' was an apt name.

A year earlier Tory prime minister Margaret Thatcher had awarded a knighthood to P&O chairman Jeffrey Sterling for "public service and services to industry".

The Herald was supposed to be a state of the art 'roll-on, roll-off' ferry - but critics described the shallow draft vessel as 'roll-on, roll-over'.

In order to ensure the turnaround time was kept to a minimum the ferry steamed out of Zeebrugge port on the fateful night with its bow and stern doors open. Something the owners had been previously warned of, but ignored.

Sea water poured onto the car deck causing the ferry to capsize into the freezing waters in less than two minutes. If it hadn't sunk onto a sandbank it would've turned turtle with a greater loss of life.

Incredibly, the captain had no view from the bridge of the bow doors, nor was there even a bell on the bridge to indicate that the bow doors were closed.

As could be expected several hapless crew members were later blamed for the tragedy, although several others were named for their outstanding heroism. And, as usual, a charge of corporate manslaughter against the company was dismissed by a judge, despite an inquiry identifying 'corporate negligence at every level of the company's hierarchy'.

Months after the Zeebrugge disaster P&O ferries were still leaving port with open doors and crew training reportedly remained poor.

In 1988 P&O attempted to sack all 2,300 of its ferry workers in Dover over the seafarers' refusal to allow cuts in the workforce which would impact on passenger safety. Free enterprise indeed.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 8 March 2017:


Save our NHS!

Demo shows battle to save the NHS can be won


Socialist Party news and analysis

Fight the cuts: Demand no-cuts council budgets

One million workers on zero-hour contracts

Tories to dodge rulings against disability benefit cut

MPs take 1k raise

Aristocrats to hold byelection for one of their 92 reps

TUSC supports Irish MPs' call on Corbyn


Comments and reviews

Struggling to care against a backcloth of cuts

1987 Zeebrugge disaster

The Socialist inbox


International socialist news and analysis

Historic demonstration in Barcelona in support of refugees

Support the Jobstown defendants: Defend the right to public protest

Build a movement to defeat Trump!


Socialist Party workplace news

Second front in battle over driver-only operation opens on Northern Rail

Leaked document threatens jobs and conditions at Ford Bridgend

Bus drivers' strike: Huge anger at bosses' attacks

Deliveroo cedes ground in Brighton dispute

Striking for jobs and union recognition at Fujitsu

EHRC workers walk out

Workplace news in brief


Join the Socialist Party!

Millions protest - now join the Socialist Party to fight to change the world

Why I joined: "I am a Labour Party member and I recently decided to join the Socialist Party"

Why I joined: "In those 16 pages of the Socialist I found more sense and integrity than in the mainstream media"

Why I joined: "I began to feel really exploited and to think about why"

Why I joined: "I hope that more and more people are going to join the Socialist Party and the fight to end inequality"


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

'Anti-union law' charges against trees protesters dropped

Sheffielders call for a no-cuts 'people's budget'

Hands off our Jobcentre!

Greater Manchester: patients are people not guinea pigs!

Bradford: Anti-cuts lobby against poor-bashing budget

Mary Creagh should resign not remain


 

Home   |   The Socialist 8 March 2017   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Ferries:

triangleRMT members to strike at CalMac ferries

triangleCondor Ferries: Fight for a living wage

triangleStriking seafarers make gains

triangleRMT supports ferry crew strike in St Malo

triangleEnd seafarers' poverty wages

Socialist:

triangleConference on state spies: who's watching who?

triangleSocialist Students 'welcome' Hillary Clinton to Swansea

triangleHundreds turn out for rally aimed at removing west Wales Tory MP

triangle'Dazzling' Bad Art show points to socialist future

The Socialist:

triangleCan you donate to the Socialism 2017 appeal?

triangleOctober 1917 reviews: 'More bright than any heaven'

triangleStriking back against sackers' charter at Leeds Uni

Socialist Party:

trianglePowerful picture of the Port Talbot steel workers' struggle

triangleNo cuts - hands off King George A&E!

Chile:

triangleChe Guevara 50 years on - revolutionary socialist and fighter

Profit:

triangleNorth London hospital workers fight cuts and job losses

Finance:

triangleNasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

Dover:

triangleConvoy to Calais: Outrageous blocking of aid for refugees

Pinochet:

triangleChile: general strike threat as pensions protests grow

Belgium:

triangleInternational news in brief

Margaret Thatcher:

triangleWho's watching who?: The fight for justice, trade union and democratic rights

Seafarers:

triangleWorkers fight back against race to the bottom!

Militant:

triangleReadmit the socialists - for a federal Labour Party

Historic events

Historic events

18/10/17

Russian revolution

Russia, October 1917: When workers took power

4/10/17

Che Guevara

Che Guevara 50 years on - revolutionary socialist and fighter

23/8/17

Review

Mutinies and strikes: when Bolshevism threatened British bosses

23/8/17

Anti-fascist

Lewisham 1977: When socialists and workers defeated the far-right National Front

9/8/17

Marx

Marx's Capital at 150: an unequalled analysis and critique of capitalism

26/7/17

Russian revolution

Russia 1917: how art helped make the revolution

12/7/17

Russian revolution

July Days 1917: battles with counterrevolution

6/7/17

LGBT

Lessons from the Russian revolution for LGBT+ struggle today

28/6/17

Liverpool

Liverpool's 1983-87 socialist council

21/6/17

Revolution

The Pentrich uprising: revolution and counter-revolution in 19th century Britain

31/5/17

Russian revolution

June 1917: when workers in Britain first tried to form soviets

26/4/17

May Day

The real origins of May Day

26/4/17

Labour Party

How Blairism sank its claws into the Labour Party

29/3/17

Russian revolution

April 1917: how the Bolsheviks reorientated

8/3/17

Ferries

1987 Zeebrugge disaster

triangleMore Historic events articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle19 Oct Arriva North West bus drivers strike over pay

triangle18 Oct Russia, October 1917: When workers took power

triangle18 Oct Tories torn - bin them now

triangle18 Oct Royal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

triangle18 Oct Balloting members on the pay cap

triangle13 Oct The end of the Tories?

triangle11 Oct Nasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

More ...

triangle23 Oct Chesterfield Socialist Party: The continuing struggle for abortion rights

triangle24 Oct Liverpool Socialist Party: The October Russian Revolution 100 years ago to the day

triangle25 Oct Salford Socialist Party: The October 1917 Russian revolution

triangle25 Oct Swansea Socialist Party: Mother Jones - A US labour pioneer

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2