Corporate killing law breakthrough

Democrat reporter

A GOVERNMENT decision to introduce a charge of corporate manslaughter into the criminal justice bill, currently before parliament, has been welcomed as a breakthrough by trade unionists and health and safety campaigners.

The announcement, which fulfils a 1997 Labour manifesto commitment, follows concerted pressure from trade unions, health and safety campaigners and, most recently, backbench MPs.

Trade unionists marked this year’s Workers’ Memorial Day with a horse-drawn hearse-led procession around the City of London’s ‘Murder Mile’ -- so named because of the large number of construction-related deaths in the area.

Every year in Britain, about 300 workers are killed in their workplace while about a thousand die while driving for their work. Thousands more die from occupational diseases. The 28 April event was organised by the Construction Safety Campaign and the London Hazards Centre and supported by the Greater London Association of Trades Union Councils.

Later in the day, families of those killed at work went on to hand in a petition to 10 Downing Street calling for the creation a new offence of corporate killing and the imposition of safety duties on company directors.

In March, Westminster MPs launched a campaign for the introduction of a new law on corporate manslaughter.

An early Day Motion in the House of Commons, which has attracted cross-party support, noted that over 2,000 workers and members of the public have died, either work-related incidents or in the Southall, Paddington, Hatfied and Potters Bar disasters, since 1997. During the same period only four companies and two company directors -- all small firms -- have been convicted of manslaughter.

The government’s decision to amend the criminal justice bill came as up to 80 backbench Labour MPs threatened another embarassing rebellion if Labour’s manifesto commitment was not included in the legislation.

Commenting on the TUC-backed campaign, the organisation’s general secretary Brendan Barber said: “This is not an anti-business issue, it’s anti-bad bosses. Good employers have nothing to fear and a great deal to gain.”

The TUC has also launched an online ‘ebook’ of remembrance for employees killed by their work which can be found at

Labour News in brief

Partial victory for ATGWU officials

THE FORMER Irish regional secretary of the ATGWU, Mick O’Reilly, and the union’s former six-county organiser, Eugene McGlone, have accepted offers of re-instatement, although they will not be employed in the same posts that they held prior to their dismissals nearly two years ago.

The offer of re-instatement to demoted posts followed a lengthy internal appeal which ended with the most serious of the disciplinary charges against the two officials being dismissed. The appeals panel upheld a number of minor disciplinary charges.

A statement issued by Reilly in mid-March explained that he and McGlone had accepted the union’s offer and agreed to drop all legal proceedings.

Stressing that they were anxious to draw a line under the episode, Reilly thanked all those throughout Britain and Ireland who had supported their campaign for reinstatement. “With a new leadership to be elected in the coming months, it is essential that we all put the traumatic events of the past 18 months behind us and look forward to the task of rebuilding the union,” said Reilly.

War parley censure

TONY BLAIR and George Bush’s decision to hold a ‘war summit’ in Belfast in the lead up to the invasion of Iraq drew fierce criticism from Irish anti-war campaigners, including leading figures in the trade union movement.

“Everyone in Northern Ireland wants lasting peace and we appreciate past and present-day encouragement from the United States in reaching that goal. But Tony Blair and George Bush know no shame in holding a ‘war summit’ in a city racked by conflict and struggling for peace,” said ICTU assistant general secretary Peter Bunting.

Their experience showed that peace could only be “achieved through dialogue and not bullets, bombs or pre-emptive strikes”, he said.

The Northern Ireland committee of the ICTU played a leading role in co-ordinating the activities of Stop the War Coalition in the six counties.

Tolpuddle festival 2003

The annual Dorset festival and rally in honour of the Tolpuddle Martyrs will take place between 18 and 20 July. Performers lined up for this year’s festival include Nick Harper, Billy Bragg, Eric Bogle, Susan Hedges, Roy Bailey and Tony Benn, Pato Banton and the Reggae Revolution. Speakers include TUC president Nigel De Gruchy, TUC general secretary Brendan Barber, Tony Benn and Paul Boateng MP.

The festival provides activities and entertainment for all the family. Camping and parking facilities available.

Further information and tickets from SW TUC, Church Hse; Church St, Bristol BS34 7BD; tel 0117 947 0521; email or via

Union history website

The British TUC has launched a new online resource providing access to a history of the trade union movement since the early 19th century.

The first phase of The Union makes Us Strong ( includes images from the TUC library collections, documents from 1815-1960 and a history of the 1888 match workers strike. More themed packages are planned for inclusion throughout the year, including the original manuscript of Robert Tressell’s The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist and a selection of documents from the library’s 1926 general strike archive.

<< | Up | >>

This document was last modified by David Granville on 2003-05-22 18:09:01.
Connolly Association, c/o RMT, Unity House, 39 Chalton Street, London, NW1 1JD
Copyright © 2003 Connolly Publications Ltd