The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 76/No. 45      December 10, 2012

No worker has to die on the job!

No worker has to die or be maimed on the job!

But nonetheless, our lives and limbs are sacrificed day in and day out on the altar of sharpening competition for markets among capitalists worldwide—from garment and textile plants in Bangladesh to chemical factories in Quebec to coal mines in New Zealand and the U.S. The bosses never value our lives more than the monetary cost of replacement.

Garment bosses in Bangladesh forced workers to remain in a burning building rather than lose a minute of profit squeezing. Like the New Zealand mine explosion that killed 29 workers in 2010, it was a large-scale disaster waiting to happen and a direct result of the bosses’ relentless drive for production. And in both cases, corners were cut that turned the workplace into a death trap from which many would not be able to escape.

The New Zealand mine bosses were pressing to meet impossible production quotas in hopes of super-profits during a period of high coal prices. Garment bosses in Bangladesh have captured a substantial share of production worldwide by pushing workers who today are the lowest paid in the industry.

The same question is posed everywhere. Only workers themselves have an interest in safe working conditions. Only their organization and use of union power—including the ability to shut down production—can enforce it.

Safety inspectors, whether from capitalist government agencies or from so-called nonprofit NGOs, have neither the same interest nor power. They end up serving as cover for the bosses unless and until the fighting union of workers is brought to bear.

Workers at the Illinois mine where Chad Meyers was killed were fighting for a union and a union safety committee. The National Labor Relations Board took 15 months to recognize their democratically elected union. And the company has made clear it would rather shut down the mine than recognize a union that would put workers in a stronger position to enforce safety.

Thousands of garment workers in Bangladesh are demonstrating out of necessity to protect their very lives after the killing of 112 fellow workers. They represent a union in becoming.

In every corner of the globe where capitalism holds sway, working people must fight today to protect each other from the growing ravages of private profit. This fight is a necessary struggle along the road through which the working class can become strong enough to wrest political power from the capitalist exploiters.

When the working class is in power, as it is in Cuba, production is organized to meet the needs of humanity. Under workers power, safety on the job is an essential aspect of production, not a contradiction.
Related articles:
Bangladesh workers fight for safer work conditions
Bangladesh workers fight for safer work conditions
Calif. postal workers protest privatization, layoffs, cuts
On the Picket Line
Report: Bosses at fault in deaths of 29 New Zealand miners in 2010
Worker killed on job at Peabody mine in Illinois
3 die, 18 injured in Quebec plant explosion: ‘There was no safety’
Millions forced into part time as bosses cut costs, drive speedup  
Front page (for this issue) | Home | Text-version home