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Vol. 77/No. 45      December 16, 2013

Only working class can enforce safety

Disasters — like the Dec. 1 Metro-North passenger train derailment leading to four deaths and more than 70 injuries — are not “accidents,” but the inevitable result of cold-blooded calculations by the bosses endemic to capitalism.

And the bosses always move might and main to foist blame for such profit-driven catastrophes onto workers.

Their cutthroat drive to boost profits, driven even harder by the deepening crisis of capitalist production and trade today, pushes the bosses to increase the rate of exploitation of the working class. This translates into slashed personnel, longer hours, relentless speedup and cutting corners on safety — accompanied by a rising toll on workers’ lives and limbs.

Black lung is once again on the rise among U.S. coal miners. There was a 37 percent leap in construction deaths in New York City last year — 75 percent among nonunion workers, many of whom are undocumented.

And there has been a rise in rail deaths — among workers, passengers and those who live near the tracks. In July, 50 people were killed when a parked Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway oil train started rolling and derailed in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec.

The bosses do a cold calculation — how likely is a derailment vs. how much profit will be lost to make it less likely or less catastrophic if it does happen. But “accidents” inevitably do happen as “small risks” calculated by bosses become ever bigger and are repeated and multiplied over and over day after day.

The rail barons resist installing systems that could reduce the chance of derailment or methods shown to be less disastrous if a derailment does happen because they just cost too much.

Workers can’t rely on the Federal Railroad Administration or other government agencies to protect them. Only the working class and its allies prioritize safety and lives of others and have no reason to do otherwise. The only way to gain more control over safety and health is to bring the collective strength of working people to bear. This includes organizing unions and using union power to fight for control over working conditions and the safety of others.
Related articles:
Rail bosses’ profit drive behind NY train disaster
On the Picket Line
Interns file lawsuits against working for bosses for free
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