1 May 2008 Edition
Nuacht na nOibrithe
Call for corporate manslaughter laws as worker dies on International Workers’ Memorial Day
SINN FÉIN backed trade union calls for corporate manslaughter legislation following the death of man at work in Cork on International Workers’ Memorial Day, 28 April.
Liam Nodwell (58), a father of one, from Glanmire, Cork City, died in an explosion at the Corden Pharma Chem pharmaceutical plant at Little Island, outside Cork City, in the early hours of Monday. Three other men were injured, one of whom was critically injured and fighting for his life as An Phoblacht went to press.
International Workers’ Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for people killed, injured or diseased while at or because of work but it has not received official recognition from the Irish Government.
Sinn Féin’s Workers’ Rights spokesperson, Arthur Morgan TD, said:
“The tragic and unnecessary deaths of workers still frequent our news headlines despite the many calls to the Government to introduce legislation to hold employers accountable for carelessness with workers’ safety.
“Today a man died after an explosion at a chemical plant in County Cork; another man received critical injuries; a third is in a stable condition in hospital. The Health and Safety Authority confirmed that it issued two notices to the company restricting production in specific areas of the plant following two explosions there at the beginning of March. The man’s death may have been accidental but incidents like this should not be happening in our workforce.”
SIPTU General Secretary Joe O’Flynn said:
“Around 1,400 workers are killed needlessly each year because of work-related activities. This represents a huge numbers of lives lost due to inadequate and dangerous safety and health standards. It is time the Irish Government recognised the wide range of causes of work-related deaths in line with the definition laid down by the International Labour Organisation and the European Agency’s definitions – including road traffic deaths, cancer deaths, heart disease deaths and respiratory deaths.
“When the ILO looked at Ireland’s safety and health statistics, they found that instead of an average of 60 work-related deaths per year (Ireland’s official statistics) when all causes were included the numbers rose to between 1,300 and 1,400 fatalities per year – over 20 times higher than our official statistics.”
SIPTU also called for all absences from work for more than three days due to work-related illnesses and diseases to be reportable to the Health and Safety Authority (similar to absences of more than two days from workplace accidents) as an additional constructive measure to protect workers.
Eighty-six people died in Irish workplaces in 2007: 19 in the Six Counties and 67 in the 26 Counties.
250 Dell jobs to go in Dublin and Limerick
COMPUTER giant Dell confirmed on Tuesday that it is to cut up to 250 jobs in Dublin and Limerick.
Sinn Féin immediately called on the Government to explain what measures it is planning to take to address job losses from “the deepening crisis in the economy”.
Dell employees had earlier been warned that jobs may go in the technical support, sales, marketing, finance and administration levels of the company.
Sinn Féin TD Arthur Morgan said:
“The fact that these job losses are high-level jobs in a sector that is seen as growing is quite alarming. This is where it was hoped jobs lost in other sectors would be replaced. Indeed, many workers who have lost jobs in traditional sectors have been training and upskillling for jobs in this sector. It is highly worrying that this sector is now beginning to leak jobs itself.”
Dell employs around 4,500 people in Ireland.
Aer Lingus staff reject proposed cuts
SIPTU members at Aer Lingus have voted in a secret ballot to reject management cost-cutting plans.
SIPTU National Industrial Secretary Gerry McCormack said that shop stewards had recommended acceptance of the plans but it is clear from the secret ballot that staff “view them as a step to far”.
Aer Lingus Chief Executive Dermot Mannion said that management is still “absolutely determined” to achieve planned savings of €80 million.
Although SIPTU has a mandate for strike action should changes be forced through without union agreement, the Aer Lingus CEO said that there will be no deviation from the proposed changes
Union urges ‘No’ vote against Lisbon
UNITE the union (formerly Amicus and the ATGWU) has decided to campaign for a ‘No’ vote in the upcoming referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.
Unite Regional Secretary Jimmy Kelly said:
“Whether judged against the EU itself or against the performance of the Irish Government on workers’ rights, I would argue that all unions and indeed the ICTU should conclude that recommending a ‘No’ vote is consistent with the defence of employment rights for workers here in Ireland.”
Jimmy Kelly said his union is seeking to move the agenda of the Irish trade union movement beyond just asking for better treatment but starting to fight back against the bosses and the Government to make concrete gains for workers in Ireland.
“The Irish Government is refusing to give effect to workers’ rights beyond the aspirational language contained in social partnership documentation over a long number of years.
“The Irish Government has failed to provide a basis for workers to view this referendum as genuinely delivering on rights in the workplace or delivering on the Social Europe as set out in the original Lisbon Treaty, therefore leading Unite to the conclusion that workers in Ireland should vote ‘No’.”