Even people who don’t follow football must have noticed the UEFA European Championship finals being played in France over the last few weeks. There will be statistics galore: the most goals, shots on target, the number of yellow cards. In this blog, ETI trainer Stirling Smith points out some statistics that you won’t read, but which are even more important.
One statistic you won’t read about in the Euros 2016 is the number of construction workers killed in building stadia before the matches. Because thankfully, the French have used existing grounds.
Which is a change from recent mega sporting events such as the Olympics and FIFA World Cup.
The death toll at some of these can be very high indeed.
The death toll in previous sporting events
Just take the last European Championships in 2012, held in Poland and the Ukraine: 20 workers died building stadiums (by the way, I checked - you do not have to write stadia).
Still, that is only half the toll at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games: 40 dead workers; and a third of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games: 60 dead workers.
Sochi is supposed to have made $53 million profit. So roughly one million dollars per dead worker.
Not bad, eh?
In fact, the ONLY mega sporting event in recent years where nobody was killed was our very own 2012 London Olympic Games. Not a single worker was killed in the construction of the facilities.
“Pourquoi?” As the French hosts of the Euros 2016 might say.
Simples, as the annoying meerkat advert puts it.
The London Olympics showed that working with trade unions reduces accidents
The answer lies in the agreement, early on, between the Olympic Games organisers and the Trades Union Congress (TUC), an ETI member by the way, to ensure trade union involvement.
Not just in the construction, but many other areas.
And as I have endlessly pointed out in my blogs, trade unions reduce accidents. By at least half.
The ITUC’s latest annual report on workers’ rights
It is timely that the International Trade Union Confederation, which links together 176 million workers in more than 300 counterparts of the TUC, has just produced its latest annual report on workers’ rights.
I’ve blogged about this before in The List of Shame.
Though not perfect, it is the only attempt to scientifically track how much - or how little - governments and employers respect the basic right of workers to join together. What we call Freedom of Association.
And this is not just a matter of concern for trade unionists.
Anybody who wants to improve safety at work, reduce child labour, get equal pay for women - all the stuff in the ETI Base Code - should support stronger trade unions. I have gone through all the evidence ad nauseam in previous blogs.
Attacks on trade unionists, free speech and democracy
The trouble is, the position of trade unions is getting worse, according to the ITUC report.
They say it is the worst year on record for attacks on free speech and democracy.
Trade unionists were murdered in 11 countries, including Chile, Colombia, Egypt, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Iran, Mexico, Peru, South Africa and Turkey.
The ten worst countries for working people are Belarus, China, Colombia, Cambodia, Guatemala, India, Iran, Qatar, Turkey and United Arab Emirates.
And guess what? There is a big overlap between countries with dreadful records on respecting workers’ rights to join a trade union and countries which are worse for modern slavery.
See my last blog – Who’s Counting Modern Slavery – for the ghastly details.
Why have 20 years of initiatives made little difference to workers’ rights to organise?
It is time that ETI member companies, and everybody else involved in the multibillion-dollar Corporate Social Responsibility industry, answer the question: why has twenty years of codes of conduct and multi stakeholder initiatives made little discernible difference in workers right to organise?
Some academic studies are now looking at this, and the answers do not make comfortable reading - sorry the article is behind a pay wall, but you can read a summary.
We know that the ETI and its members have made a difference on issues like wages, hours and child labour. But the root cause of problems in these areas is the lack of a workers’ voice. It really is time to put some effort into changing that.
ETI course on workers’ voice and freedom of association
There is a spiffing ETI course on workers’ voice and freedom of association. (Disclosure - I wrote it.)
Yet, I’m sorry to admit that we have now run the course more times outside the UK, for our partners in Scandinavia and an ETI member in Germany - take a bow, Orsay - than in the UK.
ETI members in the UK have still to sign up for the training. Even though I have promised not to sing Meatloaf songs when I deliver the courses.
We have developed the tools at ETI.
Just use them...please.