Senseless Death at Work: The Case of Nylacast Engineering

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There are many dubious ways that profitable businesses can generate extra money at the expense of the wellbeing of their employees. One simple way to boost profit margins for the bosses is by reducing wage bills, and another is by cutting corners with respect to health and safety in the workplace. Both of these exploitative practices are easier for bosses to carry through if their workforce do not have the benefit of trade union recognition their workplace.

Leicester’s very own Nylacast Engineering is one such company that prefers not to share their profits with the people who make them, their workers. So when the new National Living Wage was rolled out last year, Nylacast used this as the perfect opportunity to scrap premium shift allowances to allow them to increase the basic rate of pay by a paltry 2%. As one worker said to the Leicester Mercury: “By using money I already receive to increase my hourly rate, I effectively do not gain the full benefit of the minimum wage increase.” (“Firm alters its pay rates,” Mercury, February 19, 2016)

But it is not as if the company could not afford to keep the shift allowances in place for their employees, as the Mercury reported that Nylacast’s latest accounts demonstrated that “the company made pre-tax profits of £3.8 million on sales of £28.1 million.” Unfortunately it seems unlikely that Nylacast’s employees have access to trade union recognition in their workplace as managers reported that only five members of staff refused to sign their new degraded contracts.

Tragically another sign of Nylacast’s penny-pinching was made evident a few months later when a member of staff was killed as a result of a workplace accident that could have been easily prevented. (“Worker dies following incident at Nylacast in Thurmaston,” Mercury, April 20, 2016.) The victim in this case was Tarsem Singh, who had worked at the plastic engineering factory for 23 years.

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This week the Leicester Mercury ran a series of articles reporting on the findings of the inquest and noted that the jury concluded that Tarsem’s death “was a tragic but ultimately avoidable accident”. The “inquest heard that the ‘bespoke’ equipment” that had killed Tarsem…

“had inherent hazards that had not been identified or rectified. The jury ruled that Nylacast had failed to identify the dangers, describing its risk assessment of the apparatus as ‘neither suitable or sufficient’.”

David Rutland, a specialist mechanical engineering inspector for Health and Safety Executive explained that there was an “inherent risk with the design of the machine and, sooner or later, someone was going to get caught out by it.” (May 19, Mercury)

Sadly such easily preventable accidents will only increase as a result of ongoing attacks upon trade union rights in this country — the worse of which have been recently inscribed in the Tories anti-democratic Trade Union Act. But this is no anomaly on the part of the Tories and their fat-cat business friends, as for many years it has been common practice for big corporations to refuse to employ trade unionists who been trained to act as health and safety representatives for their workplaces. (This dark nature of this still-present blacklisting scandal is being exposed through ongoing legal actions at this very moment.)

Note

If you want to help force your bosses to make sure your workplace is safe, then make sure you join a union. If you work in a factory then why not join Unite, a union that has the added additional bonus of being a strong supporter of Jeremy Corbyn… http://www.unitetheunion.org/growing-our-union/joinunite/

Although not discussed in the above article it is also worth noting that on May 17 the Mercury ran with the headline “Inquest told of co-worker’s ‘near miss’before tragedy.” Within this article we hear that another factory worker, Sukhwinder Singh, who “had worked alongside the deceased from 2007 to 2013 before leaving the firm” explained to the jury how in a similar accident an end cap “flew off” hitting him on the hand. “He said the incident was reported to his team leader and supervisor; and he believed it had also been logged in the factory’s accident book.” But as it turns out “there was no record of the accident”.

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