Ucatt attack insensitive ‘joke’ in week of inquest
Walkers pulled the plug on its new advert yesterday hours after construction union Ucatt branded it insensitive and offensive for a “joke” resembling a fatal accident being probed this week.
The union hit out angrily at the planned the TV commercial, which saw ex-England footballer Gary Lineker having wet concrete poured onto him from a great height for refusing to share his crisps.
It aired during peak hours on Monday night — on the same day an inquest began into the death of 44-year-old father Rene Tkacik.
The tee-totaller Slovakian-born worker died last March on the Crossrail project after being buried under nearly a tonne of wet concrete following a tunnel wall collapse.
His wife told the inquest that her husband, of Hackney Road, east London, “didn’t sleep properly and was constantly tired” because of “difficult living conditions” in the accommodation provided by subcontractors on the project.
It was revealed that safety briefings only took place in English and that Mr Tkacik, who had recently arrived from Slovakia to raise funds for his daughter to go to university, had problems comprehending on-site briefings.
Health and safety procedure saw workers given a simple sheet with a tickbox to confirm they had understood their instructions.
“There’s always a box asking you if you understood the briefing and you have to tick yes or no,” concrete sprayer Dylan Jones told the inquest.
Ucatt general secretary Steve Murphy accused Walkers of making light on the deadly serious issue of construction site accidents, which last year claimed the lives of 42 workers in the UK.
“There is nothing amusing about accidents on construction sites and the timing of the advert could not have been worse,” he said.
In the face of mounting pressure Walkers acted to pull the advert, telling the Star: “As soon as we were made aware of this issue we immediately took the decision to stop running this advert.
“We did not set out to cause offence and sincerely apologise for any upset that may have been caused.”
A Ucatt spokesman said following the news: “We appreciate Walkers have recognised the sensitivity of this issue and that their advertisement was inappropriate.”