Socialist Worker

Sacrificed for firm's profits

Issue No. 1801

'MY SON Michael was murdered.' Those damning words came from Geraldine Mungovan, whose son Michael met his death at work. An inquest this week found that the 22 year old student had been 'unlawfully killed'.

Michael was a student at Brunel University. Like many other students he needed to get a job to support himself, thanks to New Labour's attacks on grants and its imposition of fees. He ended up as a casual worker for the employment agency McGinley Recruitment Services.

It sent him to work for Balfour Beatty, one of Britain's biggest companies, which was seeking to profit from low paid casual workers. Balfour Beatty is one of the private firms, like Jarvis, which has contracts for rail repairs with Railtrack.

It sent Michael on 9 October 2000 to work on the railway line near Vauxhall in south London, one of Britain's busiest and most dangerous stretches of track. Michael did not have proper safety training and was not properly supervised. He had to pay for the little training he received.

Within hours of going to work Michael was dead, killed instantly when a train hit him at speed. The case echoes that of Simon Jones in 1998. He too was a student driven to take casual work with an agency. He was sent to work with Euromin at its Shoreham dock operation on the south coast. He went without proper training and supervision in a dangerous job.

Within hours of going to work Simon was killed when a crane grab crushed his head. Simon's friends and family have led a campaign to have action taken against bosses who get away with murder.

New Labour promised changes to the law to allow bosses to be effectively prosecuted for corporate manslaughter, but has failed to deliver on those promises. The family of Michael Mungovan said this week:

'Michael received nine hours training and two hours work experience around trains and track before being thrust, unsupervised, untrained and inexperienced, into the lions' den that is the Vauxhall to Waterloo main line track. Those responsible for health and safety procedures should be held accountable. Those responsible have held a low regard for human life.'

An updated video telling the story of the Simon Jones Memorial Campaign was launched on Tuesday. Copies are available for £5 from PO Box 2600, Brighton BN2 2DX.

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Article information

Sat 25 May 2002, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1801
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