Workers’ safety must always come first

Marking International Workers Memorial Day at Falkirk Municipal Buildings
Marking International Workers Memorial Day at Falkirk Municipal Buildings
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Yesterday’s tragedy at the Queensferry Crossing on International Workers Memorial Day was a poignant reminder of the vital need for safety in the workplace.

Falkirk is unfortunately no stranger to these hardships.

Scott Harrower (42), from Maddiston died in January 2014 after he fell 25ft from a roof in Stockport. His boss Allan Thomson who had the dismantling contract was found guilty of gross negligence manslaughter and sent to jail this month.

A senior councillor also told of a community’s shock after the death of a 22-year-old man in a tragic works accident in a Falkirk timber yard.

Cecil Meiklejohn, leader of the SNP opposition on Falkirk Council, was speaking as wreaths were laid to mark International Workers Memorial Day at a ceremony organised by Falkirk Trades Union Council.

She was referring to the death of triplet Jamie McLean following an accident at the James Callander & Son sawmill in Abbots Road, Bainsford, in January. His loss was a cruel blow to brothers Andrew and Calum, sister Linzi and parents Jim and Moira.

But Mrs Meiklejohn said the death affected the whole community and without strong health and safety rules there would be more of these types of tragedies.

Fellow councillor Craig R. Martin, representing the authority and a Labour candidate in next month’s Holyrood election, said his own family had experience of this type of loss. He added there could be nothing worse than saying farewell to someone who has left home for a normal day at work never to return.

He also referred to the tragic toll of death among workers building football stadia in preparation for the World Cup in Qatar, saying it was vital strong health and safety legislation was spread not just in the UK but around the world.

And he paid tribute to the worker of former Falkirk East MP Michael Connarty in pushing through anti-slavery legislation which makes businesses dealing with manufacturers abroad responsible for their supply chains.

SNP Scottish Parliament hopeful Michael Matheson warned that the Conservative Government’s trade union bill posed a major threat to trade unions, who were responsible for much of the health and safety programme today, to maintain standards in workplaces.

Trade union council secretary Duncan McCallum called on all the politicians present to do all they could to block the TTIP European trade agreement with the US and CETA agreement with Canada because of the threat they posed to trade unions’ ability to organise and protect workers.

A number of people were unable to attend Saturday’s ceremony because of their involvement with the unveiling of the new Camelon War Memorial.