Families who had lost loved ones from industrial accidents, the STUC, UNITE the Union, UCATT, PCS, UNISON, FBU and many other workers.
of Thompsons Solicitors
, speaking at Workers Memorial Day, said:-
“We have in our history such names as Piper Alpha, Newton, Bellgrove, Cormorant
and more recently, Stockline, Flying Phantom and Brent
which caused multiple deaths and many other individual deaths due to industrial accidents for which there are no names and many of which may now be forgotten.
If we are to have a proper justice system for those who have been deprived of their loved ones through such events, then we must address their concerns. The first of these is why and how did their loved one die? The second is what lessons are to be learned? They do not want it to ever happen to anyone again.
What does our justice system do? It can take 2, 3, 4, 5 years for an Inquiry to be held. We can only imagine the distress and pain which that causes the relatives waiting to have such basic questions answered.
Even when an Inquiry is held, and that is by no means certain, the lessons are not learned. The Inquiry can be ignored with impunity. There is no compulsion on those who may be identified as being responsible and who should be learning the lessons to do so. There is even a suggestion in a recent review of the Fatal Accident Inquiry legislation to do away with workplace Inquiries by making them optional and not mandatory. We are going backwards instead of forwards. The number of Fatal Accident Inquiries has been drastically reduced since 2000.
It is appalling that today, in 2009, and despite the long history of disasters which we have had both collective and individual that we are still no further forward, and indeed regressing, in addressing the concerns of relatives and society.
We need, through our Scottish Parliament, legislation which ensures that Inquiries are held quickly and promptly, that the questions of relatives are addressed as to why they died and, crucially, what lessons have been learned. It will be of some solace to the relatives that when future generations such as their children or grandchildren ask what happened to their parent or grandparent, at least it can be said that lessons have been learned and it will not happen to anyone else. We owe these relatives, and ourselves, that much.
We therefore need to fight for long overdue changes”.