UK: Johnson accused of 'criminal negligence' and 'social murder'
A top safety law academic has accused UK's prime minister Boris Johnson of criminality and ‘social murder’ after he called for an early return to work. Steve Tombs, professor in social policy and criminality at the Open University, said “the government must know that construction workers are exposed to and unwitting carriers of coronavirus. In my view this is criminal negligence, it’s manslaughter, it’s social murder.”
Professor Tombs was commenting in a Reel News online criticism of the government’s policy, featuring construction workers and their family members and construction, legal and safety experts. The video was produced by the grassroots Shut The Sites campaign, which is calling for the closure of all non-essential building sites and for all workers to be paid irrespective of whether they are employees, self-employed or agency workers. It says the same day the government urged all construction workers to return to work, Office of National Statistics figures showed “keeping sites open has led to three times as many deaths of construction workers as healthcare professionals. Hundreds more will die if this appalling policy is allowed to continue - so Shut The Sites are calling for collective organisation to stop the carnage.”
It added: “Construction workers on site are being encouraged to join a union and take action collectively to protect themselves and their families, alongside demonstrations by members of local communities at sites near them.” It said all non-essential work should stop and any critical works must only continue “with the highest level of health and safety possible to protect workers.”
This week the government said local planning authorities were now expected to support the extension of site operating hours to 9pm in residential areas. The ONS figures showed ‘Low-skilled workers in construction’ had a Covid-19 death rate of 25.9 per 100,000 males compared to the general working age population, five times the rate for ‘professionals’.
Find out more: Reel News. Shut the Sites blog. Deaths in England and Wales related to Covid-19 by occupation, ONS, 11 May 2020. The Guardian. Source: Risks