Olympic Dream or Workers' Nightmare: An Inside Report on Health and Safety Conditions London 2012 Olympic Site

This report documents and critically analyses the working conditions of construction workers on the Stratford City development site of the 2012 Olympic Games. We base our findings entirely on the accounts of anonymous IWW and non-IWW construction workers employed there.

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on June 9, 2009

Comments

Steven.

15 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on June 9, 2009

Looks like an interesting piece of work, it's hard to assess it really without knowing too much about the details.

A couple of things stood out, like saying that a solution would be "worker control of the union". But what does that mean? That's not really an option on the table.

And a minor thing, and of course it's not good, but how would wet clothes cause workers to contract more common colds (viral infections)?

It would be interesting to know how this document relates to workers on the ground - how many workers they helped put it together, is it being distributed to workers on the site, how are they receiving it etc? What do UCATT or their reps say about it?

ftony

15 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ftony on June 12, 2009

Alright Steven, i'll try and answer the questions as best i can...

Re. worker control: well like the report says, it is a long-term goal that isn't assumed to be something that can happen overnight, if at all (certainly within the notoriously corrupt UCATT). It's really just saying a well-run union that is truly responsive to problems (and also accountable) would be controlled by its membership. it was put there, i believe, to act as something that would get people thinking more explicitly about the role of union hierarchies and how they affect how the union operates at the grassroots.

Working in wet clothes for a period of time reduce the effectiveness of the immune system, just like anything else that makes you cold or easily worn out.

The document has only just been finished, literally on the same day as it was loaded up here, so we don't know what reaction it'll get from the workers yet. people will be working on printing and distribution in the next couple of weeks, so we'll see how that pans out.

interestingly, it turns out that some charity was doing research on working conditions on the same site just after our guys were gathering their info, and apparently they made similar observations.

Steven.

15 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on June 12, 2009

Hi, thanks for the clarifications.

I think the problem with saying you want "workers control" of the union is that it's not possible. Even if you had a well organised rank and file, if their attentions were directed towards "controlling" the union, this would not be a beneficial goal. The very being of a "union" takes power away from workers by forcing them into the straitjacket of union legislation - which prevents effective direct action, solidarity action, votes by mass meeting, separates workers from each other, etc.

I mean I see what you're to get at, but the only way of trying to work towards real workers power on the job is if workers organise together, and make decisions collectively, regardless of the union form.

On the wet clothes, fair enough, it is an immunosuppressant. It looked like it was implying something else though.

I don't know if in future incarnations it might be worth mentioning something on the context of Olympic construction jobs - didn't something like 13 workers get killed for the Olympics in Greece? And again, this might be anecdotal, but didn't the number of deaths start increasing as the Games started approaching?

Anyway, it looks interesting, so please let us know if this has any repercussions on the ground.