The RMT rail union has produced a pamphlet, London Underground I Do Mind Dying – the Politics of Health and Safety. Author Unjum Mirza, an RMT political officer, spoke to Socialist Worker.
“London Underground is attempting to remove what is known as Section 12. This is a piece of health and safety regulation covering sub-surface train stations that was brought in after the Kings Cross fire of 1987.
“The regulations mean contractors on the underground have to spend money on safety.
“Importantly they also set minimum standards for staffing levels at stations.
“The main reason there wasn’t a fire on the underground after the 7/7 bombings is because of Section 12 rules.
“On any one night you will have privatised contractors from Balfour Beatty, Bechtel and countless others working on the underground – they are the driving force behind getting rid of Section 12.
“These are the same companies profiting from the ‘reconstruction’ of Iraq.
“I wrote the pamphlet as a tool for union activists, and not just in the RMT, in the fight against a specific attack. I also wanted to show that you have to have a political response, not just a health and safety one.
“The attacks on safety are part of the neo-liberal agenda, and post 7/7 safety also requires opposition to the government foreign policy that leads to such bombings.”
The pamphlet is available from the RMT, Unity House, 39 Chalton Street, London NW1 1JD