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From: The Socialist issue 498, 10 August 2007: Solidarity with postal workers

Search site for keywords: Health and safety - Rich - hse - injuries

One law for the rich...

Health and Safety: Bosses get away with murder

BUDGET CUTS at the Health and Safety Executive (HSE - part of the Department for Work and Pensions) mean that a growing number of major accidents at work are not being investigated.

Simon Carter

According to the Prospect union, over 350 major injuries were not investigated last year due to the lack of trained inspectors. Since 2002, HSE has lost over 1,000 posts as a result of government spending cuts.

Last year the number of workplace fatalities reached a five-year high but HSE inspections and spot-checks have been curtailed due to cuts in the budget.

Currently a workplace is inspected, on average, once every eleven years. HSE budget cuts, resulting in fewer inspectors and support staff, mean that the agency is more reliant on paperwork submissions by employers, making it easier for unscrupulous employers to downgrade serious safety issues.

A 2006 report for HSE, found under-reporting of major injuries in manufacturing. Researchers found about 30% of major injuries and more than 40% of 'over three-day' reportable injuries are not reported and the situation is worsening. Particularly vulnerable are workers in non-unionised workplaces, especially migrant workers.

The government has demanded a 5% reduction in the HSE budget each year for the next three years amounting to 12 million. But while slashing a vital service, this government won't, for example, pursue five of the ten largest private equity groups which paid no corporation tax in 2005-6.

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

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