Cuts to enforce worker protection laws contributed to recycling plant deaths
DAVID CAMERON should have assessed his conscience before crying “crocodile tears” over the tragic deaths of migrant workers at a scrap metal depot, campaigners said yesterday.
Five men were crushed to death under massive concrete blocks after a wall collapsed at Hawkeswood Metal Recycling in Birmingham on Thursday.
The five were named as Saibo Sillah, Alimano Jammeh, Ousman Jabbie, Bangaly Dukureh and Mohammed Jangana, and were all Spanish citizens originally from Gambia.
Mr Jammeh was expecting his family to arrive in the UK on Sunday. Due to his wife and children not owning phones, his colleagues are planning to meet them at the airport to tell them the heartbreaking news.
The Prime Minister tweeted that he was “shocked to hear about the tragedy in Birmingham,” saying his thoughts are “with the families of those involved.”
But Hilda Palmer of the Hazards campaign, a national network which fights to improve safety in the workplace, said Mr Cameron was crying “crocodile tears” and “bears some responsibility” for the “worrying” attitudes towards health and safety and lacking protections for workers.
“The past six years of coalition and Tory government have seen huge cuts to the enforcement of laws intended to protect workers, and a constant stream of lies about good health and safety being a ‘burden on business’,” she said.
“We know, and the families of those killed at work know, that red tape is far better than bloody bandages. No-one died from too much regulation and enforcement — quite the opposite.”
She also said campaigners and families of those who had died at work were “alarmed and angered” at Andrea Leadsom’s calls to remove employment regulations and workers’ rights.
The Birmingham tragedy was the third multiple-death industrial accident in a year, following the deaths of four demolition workers at Didcot power station in February and the Bosley Wood flour mill explosion last July, which took four lives.
On Wednesday the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was accused of “burying bad news” when it published new figures showing a sharp rise in construction deaths on the day of the Chilcot report.
Ms Palmer said the HSE were currently offering “little more than a business advice brochure” in tackling health and safety.