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TUC Risks E-Bulletins
Number 708 - 27 June 2015
Risks is the TUC's weekly online bulletin for safety reps and others. Sign up to receive this bulletin every week. Past issues are available. Disclaimer and Privacy Editor: Rory O'Neill of Hazards magazine. Comments to the TUC at







HSE replaces accountability with ‘experts’

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has appointed a new committee “to provide independent expert knowledge and advice on workplace health”, a move that unions had earlier warned would be “problematic”. The safety regulator says the workplace health expert committee (WHEC) will be made up of nine members “who will provide expert opinion on emerging issues and trends, new evidence relating to existing issues and, on the quality and relevance of the evidence base on workplace health issues.” It says WHEC will provide this scientific and medical advice to HSE’s chief scientific adviser Professor Andrew Curran and to HSE’s board. Professor Curran said: “I’m very pleased to have secured such a world-class team of experts in workplace health issues which will supplement our own in-house expertise in this area.” The creation of the committee has been contentious, as it forms part of an HSE restructuring that which will reduce the involvement of employer and union representatives in its advisory committees and groups. The Advisory Committee on Toxic Substances (ACTS), on which union nominees have played a prominent role, is set to be an early casualty of WHEC’s creation. Last year, Unite called on HSE to retain this and other ‘vital’ committees (Risks 674) that make use of trade union know-how about work. In September 2014, TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson warned getting rid of the committees would be “problematic” as hand-picked HSE experts “may have no knowledge of what is actually happening in the workplace. They are also, it has to be said, often reliant on the government, or bodies such as the HSE, for much of the funding for their work” (Risks 673).  The first meeting of WHEC took place on 24 June, at which point HSE had not made available conflicts of interest statements or similar declarations from WHEC members.

Ÿ  HSE news release.

Midwife suffered two work stress breakdowns

A former senior midwife suffered two breakdowns caused by stress at work. Royal College of Midwives (RCM) member Angela Jommo, 58, worked for South London Healthcare NHS Trust after being headhunted for a clinical midwifery manager post at Queen Mary’s Hospital in Sidcup, London. In her first two years in post a series of redundancies left her effectively acting as head of midwifery, with extra workload and responsibility. The strain led to a breakdown in 2006. On her return to work in 2007 after several months off, she continued in her original post as clinical midwifery manager but had regular meetings with her new line manager to discuss work-related stresses and concerns. In 2009 it was announced that the South London Healthcare NHS Trust was to merge with two nearby Trusts and that Angela’s maternity unit was to close. The change led to extra duties being added to her already demanding workload. Angela found herself working 12-14 hour days and using her spare time and weekends to complete administrative work. She told senior management about the lack of resources but was ignored, and ended up having to take on more responsibility, which ultimately led to another breakdown in 2010. The second breakdown meant that she lost her job and felt forced into taking early retirement at the age of 55. Lawyers brought in by RCM found that Angela’s employer had failed to follow its own occupational health advice, disregarding warning signs of overwork that may cause another breakdown. A ‘significant’ compensation payout was negotiated on Angela’s behalf. Angela said: “I was failed by my employer. I have been forced to give up a job I loved, a career I thrived in because my management refused to actually look at the bigger picture and see the immense problems facing the maternity unit and its staff.” RCM’s Suzanne Tyler said: “It is extremely sad that Angela was forced to give up her successful career in midwifery because she was pushed beyond what was reasonable to expect her to cope with.”

Ÿ  Thompsons Solicitors news release.

Stressed social workers face courts trauma

Heavy workloads are leaving more than nine in ten (90 per cent) social workers stressed and without enough time to prepare for court cases involving vulnerable children and families, according to a new report from UNISON. Half the social workers questioned (49 per cent) admitted they were not confident when appearing before a judge, with most concerned about the consequences of having their identity revealed in court. The report, ‘Social work, the courts and the consequences of transparency’, compiled a year after new guidance about open family courts was issued by the government, found that four in five (80 per cent) social workers would consider leaving the profession if they thought they would suffer as a result of being named in court. The union points to official figures that show a 50 per cent rise in the number of social workers leaving the profession in the last two years. While this is not solely down to stressful court work, UNISON says, it believes that publicly naming those involved in contentious cases could force more to quit. UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “If social workers feel under pressure and are worried about being publicly pilloried they will not be able to perform to the best of their ability and their clients are likely to suffer. This is an issue that is obviously having a major impact and needs to be addressed before we lose more social workers – something the UK can ill afford.” He added:  “We are calling on all employers to agree to protect social workers from what is potentially a very damaging situation. Local authorities must also exercise their duty of care with better handling of any media attention and providing staff with appropriate legal support.”

Ÿ  UNISON news release.

Train firms in ‘lethal gamble’ on staffing

Train firms in the UK are laying plans for a national dispute as they seek to bulldoze through a ‘lethal gamble’ on driver only operation, the rail union RMT has said. The union says a report by a leading rail industry body funded by the train operating companies is advising rail bosses to plan for 10 days of industrial action to get rid of train guards and introduce driver only operation (DOO). The confidential report by the Rail Safety Standards Board (RSSB) seen by the RMT states that “at the start of the implementation of the new DOO scheme the RU (rail undertaking) carefully considers industrial relations and provides for the possibility of 5-10 days industrial action.” The report indicates DOO would enable train operators to “reduce their costs”, but notes safety factors are “not quantified” and that changes could if not properly introduced have “potentially fatal consequences.” The report notes there would be “musculoskeletal” health and “workload” issues for drivers. RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “It is extraordinary that on the one hand the train companies are taking the axe to the guards but behind the scenes they are admitting there has been no safety analysis, that the plans could prove fatal and would open the door to mass fare evasion. Our fight on this crucial issue goes on.”

Ÿ  RMT news release.

Teachers say their classrooms gave them cancer

Teachers must be protected from the “scourge of asbestos” in UK schools, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) has said. A report on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme last week noted that between 2003 and 2012, 224 people in Britain whose last occupation was recorded as “teaching professional” died of the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma. The union says asbestos is a problem in schools nationwide. A 2013 study from the independent Committee on Carcinogenicity estimated more than 75 per cent of schools in England had buildings containing asbestos (Risks 609). The NUT puts the UK-wide figure at 86 per cent, based on a Freedom of Information request to local authorities. And an online survey this year by the union - based on 201 responses - suggested 44 per cent of teachers had not been told whether their school contained the substance (Risks 703). NUT general secretary Christine Blower told the BBC the government had no “long-term strategy” and there was “still no [government] recognition that asbestos is a serious problem for schools.”

Ÿ  BBC News Online and Victoria Derbyshire programme.


Scottish inquiry into the quality of work

The social and health impact of work is to be investigated by a key committee of Scotland’s parliament. The “major inquiry” by the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee will investigate how employment and job quality has changed since the 2008 recession. A news release announcing the inquiry said MSPs wanted “people from across Scotland to give their views on their quality of work, and how that work has affected their health and wellbeing.” Deputy convener of the committee, Dennis Robertson MSP, said: “The health and social impact of employment practices is one the Committee is particularly interested in hearing more about, particularly the impact of low pay.” The committee said it will look at the health and social impacts of low pay and low quality work, and how the Scottish government policies can influence the quality of jobs and the wellbeing of workers in Scotland.  A survey released by the Committee, which is seeking responses by 21 August, asks “what makes a job ‘good’ or ‘bad’?” Low pay and precarious work, two key focuses of the inquiry, have been linked to increased health and safety risks at work (Risks 698).

Ÿ  Scottish parliament Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee news release and call for evidence. BBC News Online.

Ionising radiation cancer risk at low exposures

Prolonged exposure to low doses of ionising radiation can cause cancer in nuclear workers, a study has found. Research coordinated by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which looked at the exposures of over 300,000 nuclear workers in the UK, France and the US, found that protracted exposure to low doses of ionising radiation can cause the blood cancer leukaemia. The study, published in The Lancet Haematology, shows that the risk of death from leukaemia increases linearly with the radiation dose. “To date, this study provides the most precise evaluation of the risk of developing leukaemia linked to the protracted low doses of radiation received by nuclear workers throughout their careers,” commented IARC researcher Dr Ausrele Kesminiene, a study co-author. “It shows that the nuclear workers we studied have a small increase in the risk of dying from leukaemia as their exposure to radiation increases.” The International Nuclear Workers Study (INWORKS) evaluated the exposures of more than 300,000 nuclear workers in France, the United Kingdom, and the USA between 1943 and 2005. The study assessed the risk of developing certain cancers, such as leukaemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma. The study found there was “strong evidence” for a positive association between exposure to ionising radiation and risk of death from leukaemia.” Indicating the findings are grounds for a rethink about permissible exposure limits for ionising radiation, IARC director Dr Christopher Wild explained: “Current standards used for radiation protection remain primarily based on acute high-dose exposures, derived from studies based on atomic bomb survivors in Japan.”

Ÿ  IARC news release.

Ÿ  ITUC/Hazards cancer hazards website.

Ÿ  Klervi Leuraud and others. Ionising radiation and risk of death from leukaemia and lymphoma in radiation-monitored workers (INWORKS): an international cohort study, The Lancet Haematology, published online 21 June 2015.

Review links pesticides to cancer

Three pesticides that have been heavily used in the UK have been linked to cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) evaluated the carcinogenicity of the insecticides lindane and DDT and the herbicide 2,4-D. An IARC working group of 26 experts from 13 countries classified the insecticide lindane as carcinogenic to humans, giving it the highest Group 1 risk rating. The experts, who published their findings in The Lancet Oncology, concluded there was sufficient evidence in humans for the carcinogenicity of lindane for non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). The IARC group noted that large epidemiological studies of agricultural exposures in the USA and Canada showed a 60 per cent increased risk of NHL in those exposed to lindane. The insecticide DDT was classified as probably carcinogenic to humans (Group 2A), based on sufficient evidence that DDT causes cancer in experimental animals and limited evidence of its carcinogenicity in humans. Epidemiological studies found positive associations between exposure to DDT and NHL, testicular cancer, and liver cancer. The herbicide 2,4-D was classified as possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B), based on inadequate evidence in humans and limited evidence in experimental animals. Lindane – which was used in agriculture, wood preservatives, disinfectant ‘fog’ bombs, and lice and scabies treatments - and DDT are no longer approved for use in the UK. However, workers with historic exposures may still be at risk of developing related cancers. Use of the herbicide 2,4-D is still allowed in the UK. It has found favour with local authorities for weed control on pavements and in parks and other public areas.

Ÿ  IARC news release. Dana Loomis and others.

Ÿ  Carcinogenicity of lindane, DDT, and 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, The Lancet Oncology, published online 22 June 2015.

He can’t walk or talk but DWP says work

The Department for Work and Pensions has been accused of “humiliating” a man who cannot walk, talk or feed himself by repeatedly asking him to attend a jobcentre interview or face his benefits being stopped. Nick Gaskin, from Quorn in Leicestershire, was diagnosed with primary progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) 16 years ago. He needs round-the-clock care and can only communicate through blinking. When his wife Tracy called the jobcentre to explain the situation, she was told if her husband did not attend the interview his benefits would be stopped. “When I called the number on the letter the person said if we couldn't get to the centre perhaps there could be a telephone interview,” she told the Leicester Mercury. “Nick can't speak, the man obviously hadn't been listening to me.” She added that it was “humiliating” to ask a man who cannot work to go into a jobcentre. “Nick’s quite fortunate, he’s got a great group of carers. He knows he can trust me and I can fight his corner for him. But there are people out there who haven’t got that or may be newly diagnosed. If this had happened last year – I’m in remission for cancer – that probably would have tipped us both over the edge.” A statement from the DWP, given to the Leicester Mercury, said: “We wanted to give Mr Gaskin the option of attending a voluntary ‘keeping in touch’ meeting, and we have apologised to him for any suggestion this would be a mandatory meeting.” But Tracy Gaskin said she and her husband had not received an apology from either the jobcentre or the DWP. “No one’s contacted us. As far as we’re aware, we still have to attend this interview.” Last week, the Morning Star reported that at least 10,600 people had been found to have died of undisclosed causes between January and November 2011 after undergoing “work capability assessments” as part of the government’s fit for work programme.

Ÿ  Leicester Mercury.

Ÿ  The Guardian.

Ÿ  Morning Star.

Manslaughter on Tory peer's estate

A manager of a fruit packing company has been convicted of the manslaughter of two employees who died after being instructed to retrieve apples from an oxygen-deprived storage unit without breathing apparatus. Scott Cain, 23, and Ashley Clarke, 24, were both found unconscious on top of crates of apples in a storage facility at the Blackmoor Estate owned by Conservative peer Lord Selborne, whose company pleaded guilty to three related criminal safety offences. Using a practice nicknamed ‘scuba-diving’, the workers had entered storage units through a hatch in the roof and held their breath inside while they picked apples. The air inside the sealed units had oxygen levels reduced to just one per cent for the long-term preservation of the fruit. Efforts by colleagues and paramedics to revive the workers were unsuccessful and both were declared dead at the scene on 18 February 2013. Manager Andrew Stocker, 57, was convicted over the men’s deaths having ignored health and safety regulations by encouraging staff to use the “dangerous” procedure. Winchester Crown Court heard that Stocker, who was on holiday in the Maldives at the time of the incident, had instructed Mr Cain to gather some fruit to be entered in the Marden Fruit Show, held twice a year in Kent. Blackmoor Estate Ltd, a business chaired by Lord Selborne who is also a company director, entered guilty pleas at an earlier hearing to three criminal safety charges and not guilty to a fourth. The charges relate to inadequate emergency plans insufficient risk assessments. Mr Clarke's father, Ian Clarke, said: “We are quite upset that someone could put someone's lives at risk to collect apples for a competition. For me, it doesn't make sense, it's beyond belief. I do not think he's a bad man but he's left us without a son.” The company and Stocker will be sentenced on 1 July.

Ÿ  Daily Mirror.

Ÿ  Daily Mail.

Ÿ  BBC News Online.

Ÿ  The Guardian.

Technip UK Limited fined over death on vessel

A company has been fined for breaches of health and safety law following the death of a worker on a diving support vessel. Technip UK was fined £160,000 at Aberdeen Sheriff Court after pleading guilty to a breach of the Merchant Shipping and Fishing Vessel (Health and Safety at Work) Regulations 1997. The case followed the death of David Stephenson on the vessel Wellservicer in April 2009. He was injured in an incident close to Aberdeen harbour. The rigger was investigating a problem with the buoyancy blocks attached to a dive bell. When attempting to jump clear of some falling equipment, his safety harness locked and he was pinned against the bell. Although he was flown to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, he was later pronounced dead. Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) head of enforcement Jeremy Smart said: “This was a tragic incident which should never have happened and our sympathies go out to the family of Mr Stephenson. This incident clearly demonstrates that proper risk assessments need to be conducted before any operation is undertaken and the appropriate safety measures put in place. Safety failings like this are not acceptable in any industry.”

Ÿ  MCA news release. BBC News Online.

Worker crushed to death under forklift truck

A Lincolnshire transport and storage firm has been handed a six figure fine after a father-of-two died when a metal frame being loaded onto a lorry trailer fell on top of him. Jonathan Newham, 52, of Skegness, died in hospital from head and chest crush injuries following the incident at George H Kime and Co Ltd on 10 July 2012. Lincoln Crown Court heard the company had transported a consignment of goods from Wiltshire to its base in Wrangle in readiness for the items to be auctioned in Skegness. Mr Newham and a colleague were using forklift trucks to move the goods, which were not on pallets, from the trailer to a second vehicle, as the trailer was needed elsewhere. As his colleague moved a dolly load onto the trailer with the forklift, it fell off the tines of the forklift truck, trapping and fatally injuring Mr Newham. A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation identified that George H Kime and Co Ltd had failed to ensure the safety of their employees during the movement of the metal dolly. They had failed to plan and supervise the lift and there was no safe system of work in place for the movement of loads not placed on pallets. George H Kime and Co Ltd was fined £125,000 and ordered to pay £61,935 in costs after pleading guilty to a criminal health and safety offence. HSE inspector Sally Harris said: “Mr Newham’s death was entirely avoidable and his life was needlessly lost.” Mr Newham’s wife of 33 years, Gillian Newham, said: “John was my strength, my rock and my comforter. He is missed enormously. He was quite simply a marvellous, selfless husband and father.”

Ÿ  HSE news release and lifting trucks advice.

Coach builder had a ‘reckless disregard’ for health

National bus and coach builder Alexander Dennis Ltd has been fined after it ignored multiple warnings about dangers to its workers’ health from overuse of hand-held power tools.  For several years, the Edinburgh-based company failed persistently to heed expert advice, specialist reports and complaints from workers of pain, discomfort, numbness and whiteness in their fingers. These symptoms are typical of those experienced by workers suffering from the permanent debilitating condition known as hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS). Sheffield Crown Court heard that nine workers at Plaxton’s, an Alexander Dennis Ltd after sales, repair and refurbishment depot in North Anston, South Yorkshire, were diagnosed with HAVS in 2012. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found there was uncontrolled exposure to hand-arm transmitted vibration in the case of up to 25 staff in the Plaxton motor vehicle repair workshops. There were no restrictions on the type of hand-held power tools employees used or the length of time they were allowed to operate them. In addition Alexander Dennis Ltd had no system to replace those tools that were old or worn out – one tool was 28 years’ old and a lack of maintenance meant tools were not running at the optimum level to minimise vibration. Workers were not provided with any information or instruction on how to minimise the risk from vibration and there was no health surveillance programme to check for early signs of HAVS among the workforce. Alexander Dennis Ltd, trading as Plaxton, was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay £18,643 in costs after pleading guilty to a criminal safety offence. HSE inspector Christine Mellor said the company had “failed to heed recommendations from consultants they had engaged to assist in managing the health risks to employees, including the advice from occupational health professionals. At the same time, the company was fully aware that successful civil claims had been brought by employees. Despite all this, Alexander Dennis continued to expose employees to an uncontrolled risk.”

HSE news release

Steel firm fined after teenager is injured

A Stoke on Trent company has been fined for its criminal safety failings after a teenage apprentice broke his leg. Stafford Magistrates Court heard how on 28 March 2014, an employee of Site Hire Services Ltd was working on the fabrication of a large steel structure called an ‘angle plate’. In order to hold a 800kg steel sheet in place, the fabricator attempted to attach a temporary lifting channel to hold the steel sheet in an upright position. In doing so, he sought the assistance of a 16-year-old apprentice. While the apprentice was standing next to the steel sheet it became unstable and fell on to his leg, breaking it. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the incident could have been prevented by applying better planning to the fabrication task and by having better control measures in place, including adequate training and supervision. Site Hire Services Ltd pleaded guilty to two criminal safety offences and was fined £6,000 with £2,232.98 costs. HSE inspector Rachel Bradshaw said: “The manipulation of heavy loads using lifting equipment is a regular occurrence within the fabrication industry and needs to be properly managed.” She added: “It is not acceptable to expect people to work near unstable or poorly supported materials, even for short periods of time. Safe systems of work should be in place to prevent this and to avoid serious injuries or loss of life.”

Ÿ  HSE news release.

Four injured as roof trusses collapse

A Worcestershire firm has been sentenced for criminal safety failings after four workers were injured, one of them seriously, when a roof truss in a new extension collapsed triggering a domino effect collapse of other trusses. The four men working on the extension were caught in the collapse at premises in Binley, Coventry, on 26 June 2014. One man was trapped by his legs, two suffered minor injuries and the fourth, a 37-year-old who does not wish to be named, suffered severe grazing and a fracture to his lower spine which led to many painful months off work. Nuneaton Magistrates’ Court heard the principal contractor for the project was DP Designs Ltd. Due to an omission during the planning and procurement process of the project, a critical structural truss had been overlooked. This led to the workers attempting to install the trusses in an unstable manner, but as soon as they realised there was a problem, they stopped working in that area. However, the following day, one of the trusses broke, causing a domino effect as several other trusses collapsed above the area where the men were working. A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that had the work been properly planned, organised and monitored the collapse would not have occurred. Also, if appropriate fall prevention measures had been implemented correctly, the outcome would have been less severe. DP Designs Ltd was fined £24,000 plus costs of £1,106.15 after pleading guilty to two criminal safety offences. HSE inspector Chris Gregory, said: “As the principal contractor DP Designs Ltd should have ensured the roof truss installation was properly planned, appropriately supervised and, above all, safe. The company had a duty to inform those, who may be affected, of any changes to the plan that may impact on their work, in this case the company failed to inform workers of changes that led to the structure becoming unstable.”

Ÿ  HSE news release and work at height webpages.

Ÿ  Construction Enquirer.


Will we survive five more years?

The latest issue of the workers’ health and safety magazine Hazards is out now. The magazine includes a punchy, campaign-focused ‘Will we survive five more years?’ poster, showing David Cameron’s bloody footprints as he returns to 10 Downing Street. It warns the erosion of safety protections in his government’s first term are set to be continued, adding: “Deaths at work? Tell Cameron we won’t take them lying down.” The issue has a chemicals theme, looking at an official cover-up of the health risks posed by sheep dip chemicals, the role of UK household chemicals giant Reckitt Benckiser in 100 disinfectant related deaths in South Korea, and the global union campaign against exposure to toxic substances at work.

Ÿ  Will we survive five more years? Hazards magazine, number 130, 2015.

Ÿ  Subscribe and support the work of Hazards.


Australia: FIFO report a first step to halting suicides

Unions in Australia have said they will push hard to ensure sweeping reforms to reduce the rate of suicide and self-harm among ‘Fly-In, Fly-Out’ (FIFO) workers are implemented across isolated mining worksites in Western Australia. Improved rosters, better accommodation and reliable communications with home are among changes proposed in ‘The impact of FIFO Work Practices on Mental Health’, the final report of a bipartisan WA Parliamentary Committee tabled last week. The report, which has been welcomed by unions and which followed a 10-month investigation, was prompted by the high rates of suicide in those flying in to work in the state’s booming mining industry. AMWU’s WA state secretary Steve McCartney said letting “this vital report gather dust is not an option”, adding: “It has rightly recommended moving away from long rosters such as four weeks on and one off towards more family-friendly rosters. It’s overdue that industry started working constructively with unions for change, including ending the practice of motelling where workers are forced to change their room every time they return to the site.” Unions WA state secretary Meredith Hammat said the mining industry should adopt the code of practice recommended by the committee and immediately work to address the issues outlined in the report. “The recommendations are clear - we need to do much more," Ms Hammat said. “We need to ensure we are implementing family friendly rosters. We need to ensure we are improving data collection and reporting. We also need to make sure that we have strong occupational health and safety with codes of practice that deal specifically with fly-in, fly-out work.” The Electrical Trades Union and the construction and mining union CFMEU said they wanted to begin immediate discussions with resource companies on making rosters more family-friendly.

Ÿ  AMWU news release.

Ÿ  Manufacturing Matters.

Ÿ  WA Today.

Ÿ  The Conversation.

Ÿ  The Australian.

Ÿ  ABC News.

Canada: Union wants pay-before-you-pump forecourt law

Urgent action is needed to stop the ‘cash-and-dash’ fuel robberies from petrol stations that put forecourt workers at deadly risk, a Canadian union has said. The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is calling on Canada’s federal minister of labour, Dr Kellie Leitch, to use her position to encourage provinces nationwide to enact “pay-before-you-pump” legislation. In a letter to the minister, NUPGE national president James Clancy points to the death of Maryam Rashidi, a 35-year-old Calgary resident and mother, who was killed by a stolen truck as she was attempting to stop a gas-and-dash robbery while at work. Following her death, the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) called for pay-before-you-pump legislation across the country. The system is already in operation in the neighbouring province of British Columbia. AFL is also calling for mandatory employee training and legislation that will establish an employer’s responsibility to keep late-night workers safe. The union leader writes that while “legislation of this type is a responsibility of the provincial governments, I believe that this is an area where your office could provide much needed leadership. You could use your position as the federal Minister of Labour to encourage and assist provinces in introducing and adopting pay-at-the-pump legislation and enacting related safety measures.”

Ÿ  NUPGE news release.

Global: ITUC push for independent FIFA commission

The global union umbrella group ITUC is calling on national football associations to push for genuine reform of FIFA through the establishment of an independent commission. The union body says footballing authorities must not blithely accept that FIFA can suddenly reform itself under a leadership which has failed to end corruption after years of multi-million dollar scandals. Sharan Burrow, ITUC general secretary, said: “The sheer scale of the corruption investigations and the links of those involved with violations of workers’ and other human rights, demand urgent and decisive action. Major FIFA sponsors must also recognise that their reputations and even their own business models are at threat. Sponsors should make this reform commission a condition of any continued relationship with FIFA.” With FIFA’s executive committee due to meet on 20 July, the ITUC, along with the TUC-backed Playfair Qatar, #NewFIFANow and sportswear brand SKINS, has been advocating for the creation of a reform commission, to be led by an eminent person of international standing such as former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Other business leaders concerned about corruption are believed to be backing the call. ITUC has warned that thousands more exploited and abused migrant workers will die building the infrastructure for FIFA’s 2022 World Cup in Qatar unless there is radical change. It says FIFA has refused to apply pressure on the authorities there to end the kafala slave labour system or to demand decent, safe working conditions for construction workers building the facilities.

Ÿ  ITUC news release.

Ÿ  Playfair Qatar.

Korea: Union to sue FedEx over anthrax deliveries

A union in South Korea has accused global logistics firm FedEx of putting workers at risk of deadly anthrax infection. The Korean Public Service and Transport Workers' Union is considering legal action against FedEx Korea for the company's alleged failure to take safety measures in its delivery of live anthrax samples to a military lab in Korea from the United States. “FedEx delivered live anthrax samples through the general delivery service network, a violation of laws such as the Aviation Security Act,” Jung Chan-moo, who is in charge of air and sea transport of the union, told The Korea Times. “It did not notify transport workers of the danger, and did not offer safety equipment, either. This seems to have violated the Industrial Safety and Health Act.” The union leader added: “The company said all it did was just deliver parcels, and it did not know about the samples. But we believe there is greater possibility that the firm knew it, given FedEx is one of the major contractors of the Pentagon. The firm has not made an apology although it directly threatened the safety of Korean citizens and workers.” Park Seok-min, a senior official at the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), said that his organisation is also planning to urge the Korean government to take legal responsibility for its response to the incident. “We will especially check on the Ministry of Health and Welfare, and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport,” he said. The world's top package courier accidently delivered live anthrax samples for military experiments to labs across the United States, as well as to other countries including Canada, Australia and South Korea, according to the Pentagon.

Ÿ  Korea Times.

Ÿ  Washington Post.

Ÿ  BBC News Online.


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