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Reckless employers must be held criminally liable for workplace accidents and fatalities - Mary Lou McDonld MEP

21 June, 2006

MEP for Dublin and Sinn Féin National Chairperson Mary Lou McDonald has this morning welcomed a delegation of trade union activists and workers' rights campaigners to the European Parliament in Brussels. Ms McDonald said that the campaigners had travelled to Brussels to "raise the importance of safety in the workplace and the responsibilities of employers in ensuring such safety".

Ms McDonald hosted the delegation and welcomed representatives from UCATT, MANDATE, SIPTU, Belfast Trades Council and the IWU as well as Sinn Féin Councillors and representatives including Jonathan O‚Brien (Cork) and Killian Forde (Dublin) and Martin Meehan (South Antrim). Members of the Justice for Justin Foley Campaign also travelled to Brussels to highlight the case of the young Dublin man who died at work 2002.

Speaking from Brussels Ms McDonald said:

"This delegation of trade union activists and workers rights campaigners have arrived in Brussels against the backdrop of a sustained attack against workers, and their rights as employees. Rampant privatization, the EU Services Directive, Port Services Directive and the Irish Ferries saga is evidence of the consistent erosion of labour rights and conditions across the EU.

"Today's delegation will hold a series of meetings with other Irish MEPs, European Trade Union organizations and European Commission officials to discuss the issues of health and safety issues and working conditions. Of particular importance, will be the meeting with the EUs Trade Union Intergroup MEPs on Occupational Health and Safety and Corporate Manslaughter.

"In 2005, 23 more people were killed in workplace accidents than in 2004. Twenty-three people were killed in workplace accidents in the construction sector in 2005, compared to 16 in that sector in 2004. This is an extremely serious issue which must be addressed immediately. Under current Irish law companies can be prosecuted for gross negligence manslaughter but there have been no prosecutions under this offence to date.

"Sinn Féin has consistently demanded that the Government introduce legislation to provide for the crime of Corporate Manslaughter as recommended by the Law Reform Commission in their report of October 2005. Reckless employers must be held criminally liable for workplace accidents and fatalities.

"Today's round of meetings gives both trade union and workers rights activists the opportunity to quiz European officials on all of these issues. I particularly want to welcome the family of Justin Foley to the European Parliament, who have travelled here to raise the case of their son who died at work in 2002. My hope is that all of those who have taken the time to come to Brussels will find the experience useful." ENDS

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