April 27, 2021
From Radical Glasgow (UK)
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           We should realise that going to work can mean death, trying to earn your crust of bread, can mean death. So many ordinary people go to work and never return home alive. Your friends, neighbours, family members, set off to earn money to pay the rent, put food on the table but never come home. In this capitalist profit oriented world, health and safety at work is considered as cost and so is pruned to suit the profit margins. United Nations estimates that six thousand people are killed daily at work – three times MORE people than in WARS, drug and alcohol abuse combined. [United Nations]
         April 28th is now marked as International Workers Memorial Day, when we should all come together and remember the real cost of this economic system that favours the few. Our lives are littered with, in most cases, avoidable disasters at work. Below is just one example of the price of earning your daily bread.

Blood Red Coal.
          The industrial revolution was driven by power that power in a large capacity was coal. We should always realise that coal is not black, it is red with stained blood. Coal supplied the power, blood and sweat oiled the wheels. Deaths in heavy industries during the rise of the industrial revolution and well into the modern age have been horrendous, sometimes individual deaths, sometime mass deaths and mining communities are no stranger to mass deaths.
        One such disaster of mass deaths was at a coal mine just outside Glasgow near Moodiesburn, the Auchengeich pit disaster, September 18th 1959. I’m old enough to remember that day. My father was a coal miner all his working life, the last pit he worked in was the near by and sister pit, Western Aucheneich Colliery, and he had just retired a few weeks before the disaster. The mining communities are close knit communities and my father knew all of those who perished. I can only imagine the effect those deaths had on the families, I know it shattered my father.
       One event, one day, in one community and 47 men lost their lives, the youngest 22 the oldest 62. All died of asphyxiation by poisoning from carbon monoxide, from an underground fire. 47 deaths in a small community. They say lightening never strikes twice in the same place. Auchengeich Colliery disaster 22nd. January 1931: Air Tubes Destroyed- Miners’ Sacrifice to Save Their Workmates : Five miners were killed and six injured in an explosion which occurred early yesterday morning in a Lanarkshire colliery. Several men escaped injury in the explosion, but returned immediately to the danger zone in an effort to assist their comrades, and were overcome by gas fumes.
       Could the second Auchengeich Colliery disaster have been avoided? Like all activities where output and profit are the motives, safety often slips down the priority list, but it is not for me to judge in this case.
       I will however quote from the official inquiry report.
Quote from official report: 2. I find that forty-seven men on a man-riding train underground in a return airway died from asphyxia due to poisoning by carbon monoxide contained in smoke from a fire which originated in the driving belt of a booster fan farther inbye and spread to wood props and laggings used as roof supports.
Quote from part of conclusions: (9) By calculation, a balata transmission belt made of 33 ½ oz. cotton duck put on after the speed-up of the fan had an excess capacity of about 50 per cent. and the 31 oz. belt which caught fire about 25 per cent. But the first of these belts lasted less than ten weeks and the other only two days.
        (10) The belt which caught fire was not of the 33 ½ oz. weight ordered by the National Coal Board and failed to satisfy completely some of the tests prescribed by British Standard 2066.
        Live link to inquiry: http://www.scottishmining.co.uk/250.html Here you will also find a list of mining disasters in Lanarkshire from the 1800’s, and there are many.

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Source: Radicalglasgowblog.blogspot.com