Monday, 2 August 2010

Asbestos victims suffer the government's attacks on Health and Safety

It appears that the first victim of the new government's disdain for workers' health and safety will not be "red tape" or "bureaucracy," but the fight against one of the deadliest workplace killers - asbestos.

Today, the Mirror reported this;
Hope in the fight against asbestos-related cancer is to be dashed by the ConDems.

The coalition is dodging a pledge made by the last government to fund a £10million research centre, a key demand of the Mirror's Asbestos Timebomb Campaign.

Tory Health Minister Simon Burns refused to even mention the vital commitment when replying to a specific Commons question.

He wrote: "Future expenditure on research in asbestos-related diseases will be determined by the success of bids for funding." This would be in "open competition" with other bids on "any aspect of human health".

Labour MP Stephen Hepburn, who put Mr Burns on the spot with the question, said: "It's another kick in the teeth for workers exposed to asbestos." Diseases related to the material kill 2,000 people a year while mesothelioma - a lung cancer caused by asbestos - is the 12th most common cause of male deaths.

Mr Hepburn went on: "Mesothelioma is incurable. It's a disgrace the Government won't honour a promise to invest in research." Alan Ritchie, chief of construction union UCATT, called the move "sickening but unsurprising".

He said: "The fact sufferers are mostly working class means they are not considered a priority."
This follows from news last week that victims of asbestosis were having the compensation process weighted against them.

Again, from the Mirror;
Asbestos cancer victims waiting for urgent compensation payments have suffered a serious setback under the ConDems.

Union leaders who have been campaigning for a better deal for thousands hit by mesothelioma - an incurable form of lung cancer caused by exposure to the killer dust - have been left out of top-level talks.

Now they and MPs fear many will die before they get cash promised under the last government.
Quite clearly, justice for working class people is being sacrificed in the name of the cynical ideology driving government policy. Even as a new generation of workers are put in harms way by a government review which seeks to "use the myths and hysteria promoted by the media as a smokescreen to dismantle basic and vital protections for working people."

The new government's promised attacks on the working class have long begun. Whither the response from the organisations which claim to defend us?