Some 135 workers were killed at work last year, according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). This does not include the thousands more who died as a result of occupational diseases or workers killed while driving at work.
The statistics barely get a mention in the media, let alone the names of the victims or the effect on their families. If they are “lucky”, they might get a mention two or three years later if the woefully understaffed HSE get a prosecution.
Contrast this with the wall‑to‑wall coverage of the death of Graham Saville, a police officer hit by a train last week while rescuing a man who was in mental distress. This was a front-page story in almost all tabloid newspapers and combined with much coverage of Saville and his grieving family.
Editors take for granted the idea that the life of a police officer is worth infinitely more than a mere builder. And that saturation media coverage is not due to a new-found concern for people killed at work. It has everything to do with a desperate attempt to rehabilitate the reputation of the police force as a whole.
The police force has been getting a pounding for being corrupt, racist, sexist, homophobic and useless at solving crime. But its primary role has always been to protect the interests of the rich and powerful. Police officers arrest strikers on picket lines, and climate protesters get sent down, but employers only get fined, even if they kill a worker.
Dead workers remain unknown, and expendable. We do know about 26 year old Michael Jones, who died in an accident while building Everton’s giant new riverside stadium, but this is because the football community rallied round and honoured his memory at football matches.
When we get the chance, working class people remember our dead.
Hastings, East Sussex
The recent Oppenheimer film about the first atomic bombs is not just history. Similar events are being played out today. News reports have highlighted what anti-war activists have already seen—mounting evidence that the US military is bringing first-strike nuclear weapons back to the Lakenheath US airbase in Norfolk.
And the US is investing in new nuclear sites across Europe. Regimes are using the proxy war in Ukraine to risk much worse than the unnecessary mass slaughter in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. In Norfolk, CND and Stop the War activists have started building regular, lively anti-nuclear protests at Lakenheath for the first time in years. They are attracting a mix of younger and experienced protesters. The next one is planned for Saturday 23 September.
We need to build mass, international anti-war movements, just like those that exposed the lies behind the US and British bloodbaths in Iraq and Afghanistan. We should aim high for forces that can match the huge revolts that ended the war in Vietnam, and the revolutions that united millions to end the First World War.
These movements can combine with other fights to ensure a world where nuclear powers can’t “let the bodies pile high” for imperialist greed ever again.
The refusal of Luis Rubiales, president of the Spanish Football Federation, to resign after his forced kiss on Jenni Hermoso says much about women’s place in sports. Though the increased interest in women’s sport signals a slight change in sports culture, the women participating are not more respected.
The kiss itself, and the fact that Rubiales grabbed his crotch in celebration, show that he sees the athletes as playthings onto which he can project a sexual fantasy. The lawsuits being brought against Hermoso—and the players that refused to play in solidarity with her—show that the bosses feel that the players should bow to their every will, and be pawns in a game bigger than the football itself.
Though we cannot include highly paid athletes in the working class, this event emphasises the reality of how all workers are treated by bosses. The sexual nature of the incident, and the way in which the wider football world is treating it, shows that it does not matter how good a woman is at her job.
It does not matter if she wins the highest award possible in her career. Capitalism, and its misogyny, will always seek to force her down.
On 9 August the fascist group Patriotic Alternative held a so-called “day of action” and I spotted one of them in my home town of Barrow-in-Furness. I phoned around some anti-fascists to inform them of what was happening and within 15 minutes a group of us turned up to confront them. Three of them were ready to start handing out their racist leaflets and spotted us watching them. They then left because our presence prevented them from doing so. A small victory for the anti-fascists, but an important one.
It was festive, joyful and highly rhythmic—perhaps inspired by the Notting Hill Carnival taking place the same weekend.
Their protest was, well, a little sad. No more than eight lonely poor souls showed up to shout slurs and nonsense.
Who’s got a ticket to ride?
I’ve just been reading that in Scotland the Poverty Alliance is calling for free bus travel to be expanded. Good luck to that. Here in South Tyneside, Stagecoach bosses think they are doing wonders by charging £2 for a single journey. They are a disgrace.
There is a scene in the classic BBC tv series, I Claudius, which was reviewed in Socialist Worker recently, which makes me think of Donald Trump’s presidency. One character says that the emperor Caligula is “sick”. Another replies, “It’s Rome that’s sick—Caligula is just a rash that it’s come out in.” Today capitalism is a sick system and Trump is a rash it’s come out in.
Just how committed to free speech are the Tories? Hardly a day passes without them insisting that in universities, “You can’t say anything anymore”. So what to make of former Tory MP Antoinette Sandbach? She is threatening to sue Cambridge university. But for what terrible crime? One of its students researched their family history and discovered that they were enslaved by Samuel Sandbach. The student then did a talk where he mentioned that Antoinette is a beneficiary of Samuel’s estate. Now the former MP is threatening to sue Cambridge for allowing their student to tell the truth.
Just watch as the Wilko shops are taken over by private equity firms. They will strip out the assets, sack staff—and then claim they “saved” the company.
Freedom of expression under threat again
Cops mishandled Nicola Bulley's personal information
Solidarity with the Elbit 8
Plus Hong Kong Palestine protests