April 28, International Day for Health and Safety at Work, we call on workers to strengthen the fight for the protection of our lives and health, the prevention and treatment of occupational hazards.
The deaths of workers from accidents at work and occupational diseases such as cancer, injuries to workers and health problems due to work, the transformation of workplaces into areas of coronavirus transmission, have a specific cause. Behind the great lack of protection measures in the workplace is the protection of the maximum percentage of profit for the capital and the competitiveness of the monopolies. That is why employers and governments are co-deciding on an EU strategy to secure cheap labor, leading to non-utilization of scientific and technical potentials for prevention and treatment of occupational dangers.
Workers in the workplaces suffer day-to-day examples: inadequate equipment and machinery, inadequate maintenance, even the absence of basic health care measures, breach of protection regulations. In order to ensure cheap labor, they take advantage of EU guidelines and the anti-labor legal framework that governments have consistently applied, extending the working hours, imposing flexible working hours, staff reductions and labor intensification. All of this is exacerbating the conditions for preventing and dealing with occupational dangers and we pay the price.
The profitability and competitiveness of the monopolies is paid by the workers with occupational diseases, accidents at work, deaths and disabilities that could be prevented, justifying their characterization as employers’ crimes.
At the same time thousands of occupational diseases are described as “common diseases”, occupational accidents are not being recorded, deaths and disabilities of workers due to lack of Safety and health protection measures are hidden or recorded as “pathological” highlighting the responsibilities of governments and employers for the raw violation of the most basic guidelines.
The blood tax paid by the working class over time has given rise to their development.
The protection and prevention of occupational dangers are subject to the laws of profit, competition and the jungle of the markets, not using the advantages for the protection of the health and life of workers.
The current government of ND, continues the same anti-popular policy with the previous governments SYRIZA, ND, PASOK / KINAL based on the strategic directions of the EU to shield capitalist profitability (few health and safety inspectors in relation to all workplaces, orienting controls to “reconciliation” between employer and employee and often shifting employer responsibility, turning labor inspectorate into an “independent authority”). The position for individual responsibility in the case of accidents at work, as has been the case for the past two years with the pandemic, is used to hide the criminal policy that does not pay a penny for human life.
During the pandemic we saw even more acute, even more embossed, the consequences of submitting Health protection to the profits of the Capital. Workplaces became hotbeds of hyper-transmission, the so-called “scientific protocols” were dictated by the pursuit of capital with the revealing example of the tourism industry. The so-called “openoffice”, which in addition to the connection with work stress and working conditions, also worsen the conditions of protection against the pandemic, remained unharmed, precisely because its linked to the employer’s desire to intensify work.
An extreme example of the lack of prevention and protection measures against biological risk factors and especially from COVID-19, are the hospitals themselves, with hundreds of health workers, doctors and nurses getting sick and with the conditions of protection and prevention becoming flexible and the intensification of work to grow, by the huge staff shortages, closure of structures, absence of primary care. At the same time, no occupational disease COVID-19 has been identified, despite the formal inclusion of SARSCOV 2 in biological occupational risk factors by a recent presidential decree. The opinion of the BAE (Hazardous Occupations) committee, which proposes the expansion of the BAE institution to public hospitals, remains only on paper.
The policy of all governments to this day maintains a framework that leads to the incomplete registration of accidents at work and the absence in the practice of recording occupational diseases, to the degradation of the orientation of the necessary scientific research in the relevant fields, to intentional keeping of deficiencies in legal framework, further commercialization of the insufficient and degraded public sector of Health – Welfare, in the absence of public infrastructure for the assessment and prevention of occupational risk. Through the abolition of the BAE allowance in specific sectors in the public sector, the way is opened for the further attack on the institution of BAE as a whole.
The solution lies in the strengthening of the struggle of the unions so that no worker does not submit, and does not give in to the blackmail of the employer. Life and health can not be weighed against any gain or loss.
The framework of struggle that focuses on the needs of working, popular families, for measures to protect our lives in the workplace, is a one-way street that we will impose only through collective, organized and class struggle.