Friday, April 28, 2017

International Workers' Memorial Day

On Friday 28th April, millions of workers across the world will remember those killed at and by work as part of International Workers' Memorial Day. Many commemorative days receive mass attention, environmental, health and safety issues in the workplace are barely acknowledged.

 A few employers may care about the safety of their workers, but in general, capitalists seek to maximize profit. That means they will pay more for safety only insofar as they are forced to bear medical and other costs associated with injuries – through workers’ compensation, for instance.  It is clear that much work is potentially dangerous, such as anything involving chemicals, machinery or working above ground. But that does not by itself explain why there are so many injuries, fatal and otherwise. While ‘accidents’ cost money, regulations and enforcement are expensive too. All impinge on profits, which are the main reason for production under capitalism. Companies will say that they take health and safety seriously, but they have to take profit most seriously of all. We cannot say that there would be no workplace deaths or injuries in a socialist society, but we can be sure that the safety and well-being of those who produce the goods and services will be paramount. There will be no shortcuts, no cheap and nasty solutions, no forcing people to work in unsafe situations. Producing in the interest of the whole community will include making production as safe as is humanly possible – something that capitalism simply cannot deliver.  

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