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[19.12.2006] Hard work - Plenty of accidents

According to the “ Employment Perspectives 2006”, an annual edition of the OECD (Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development) the average of working hours in Greece per worker is the highest of the 30 most developed countries. This, however, is not the only undesirable record.According to the Labour Inspection Service (which counts only 65% of the accidents) the number of fatal accidents at work is every year steadily above 110 and since 1974 4.000 people lost their live while working (this number does not include the sectors of shipping, agriculture and metal).

In the first six months of 2006 the percentage of fatal accidents at work rose by 29% compared to the same period in 2005. In Greece you have a fatal accident at work every 15 minutes and at least 1 fatal accident every three days. At the same time there is a steady decrease in controls as well as in fees imposed on employers, the Labour Inspection Service says.

Last May 2 killed people (plus 4 heavily injured) were added to the sad list of 896 dead workers since 2000. This time at TITAN Ltd., a company in Elefsina, not far from Athens. In spite of the fact that workers repeatedly have accused the company of lack or even complete absence of health and safety measures, TITAN Ltd. has carried off 4 awards and some certificates for health and safety in its factories. This is something which is clearly contradicted by mere practice.

The secretary general of Labour Inspection has admitted, that this company is controlled only once a year and that the Service has about 300-400 inspectors at its disposal for 600.000 enterprises!

Work versus capital.

TITAN Ltd. is the 15th producer of cement in the world and has 11 factories in 6 countries (4 in Greece, 2 in the USA, 1 in Bulgaria, 1 in Servia, 1 in Macedonia and 2 in Egypt) and a further 7 cement distribution centers (2 in the USA, 2 in Egypt, 1 in Italy, 1 in France and 1 in England). The company saw a 104% increase in profit in 2001-2005: 103 million euro in 2001, 210 million in 2005 and in the first three months of 2006 43 million euro.

Referring to the recent accidents PAME (All Workers Struggle Front) declared: “Another 2 killed workers and 4 heavily injured were added to the list of employers’ crimes. TITAN Ltd. bears the full responsibility for this new crime, because in the name of profit and competitiveness work is intensified and cheap workers are being recruited.”

Furthermore PAME, pointing out that the life of workers doesn’t count at the least for industrials, accuses government and employers of being both responsible. This certainly is not a fiction, since the government representative said in response to a question of the newspaper Rizospastis about the responsibility of the government as regards above mentioned fatal accidents at TITAN, that measures to protect workers are continuously being taken. When asked whether the fact that super-profits made by banks and enterprises at the Exchange, are soaked with the blood of workers, the representative simply referred to previous utterances of the Prime Minister…..

So Rizospastis published the most recent utterance of Premier Karamanlis at the General Meeting of the Association of Greek Industrials, where he was saying: “We have said –and so we prove in practice – that we work to establish sound conditions in modern Greece for an entrepeneur’s spring.” The 4.000 workers having since 1974 lost their live at work can tell, that this spring for enterprise is not only the ideal of today’s government. Since then the “socialist” Pasok too (now “opposition” party) has been in power for 20 years (1981-2004, only interrupted in 1990-1993 by the central rightwing New Democracy government). The political representatives of big capital, being represented in both establishment parties, know what it is about. But their victims? Well, they should take command by themselves, as PAME suggests.


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