Socialist Party
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3 May 2007

Workers' Memorial Day

Remember the dead but fight for the living

WORKERS' MEMORIAL Day on Saturday 28 April was commemorated in London with an emotional 200-strong march and rally.

Bill Mullins

The rally at the statue of the building worker in Tower Hill graphically revealed the anger and sorrow felt by many about what is happening throughout the construction industry. Speeches by the families of those killed in the last few years caused many to feel anger at the callousness of the employers towards those who work for them.

The widow of a crane driver who was killed last year, along with a man working on his car in a side street, told the rally that her husband's body was not moved for five days as it lay under the twisted wreckage of the crane. "It will be three years before we hear if anybody is going to be prosecuted for what happened", she said.

Another widow, whose husband was killed at the Wembley site, said that only six months before, she and her husband had gone along to another workers' funeral. He was from the same site and a good mate of the husband. She told the rally: "I said to him: don't let this happen to you Patsy"

Two workers a week are killed on building sites in Britain. As one speaker said, this does not include the thousands who die every year form work-related diseases such as asbestosis.

London is undergoing a massive building programme which will get even larger as the 2012 Olympics approach.

Yet the Labour government and the employers are cutting back on the number of health and safety inspectors by 380 next year to save money. Barry Camfield from the TGWU pointed out this was at the same time as: "spending billions on nuclear weapons and the Iraq war".

The Construction Safety Campaign is campaigning for a corporate manslaughter bill. This was something promised by New Labour at the general election in 2001. But nothing has happened and hundreds of workers have died since.