Grim reaper visits Carillion death hearing

Photo: Simon Chapman

Workers employed by Carillion who were blacklisted after raising safety concerns have protested outside a court in Swansea where the firm is being prosecuted after a site death.

The plea and case management hearing at Swansea Crown Court on 6 September 2012 was in relation to the death of scaffolder Russell Samuel. The father of two, aged 40, suffered massive head injuries on 22 January 2008 after falling 62ft from a skyscraper complex which includes the tallest residential building in Wales.

Febrey Limited, Michael Febrey and Carillion Construction Limited are all charged with criminal breaches of safety law in a case brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The union GMB called the demonstration outside the court.

One of the demonstrators was dressed as a ‘grim reaper’, complete with scythe. Protesters carried placards bearing the words ‘Carillion blacklisted health and safety representatives says GMB’ and ‘Carillion corporate bullying risks death and injuries on sites.’

GMB national officer Justin Bowden said: “This demonstration is to highlight the terrible toll of death and injury in the construction sector and to underline the importance of the proper enforcement of health and safety laws to prevent this carnage. Employers which kill and maim workers are as guilty of a crime as someone who kills or maims while drink-driving.”

He added that Carillion was part of a “blacklisting conspiracy which deprived workers in the sector of jobs even when they raised concerns about the enforcement of basic health and safety and hygiene standards.”

Justin Bowden and GMB Scotland secretary Harry Donaldson gave evidence to the House of Commons’ Scottish Affairs Committee enquiry on blacklisting on 4 September 2012. The union says only 194 of the 3,213 workers on a construction-industry run blacklist exposed by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in 2009 know they were targeted three years on.

The situation is an “indictment” of the ICO, the union said, describing the privacy watchdog’s excuses for not contacting blacklisted workers as “so weak as to be a joke.”

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