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From The Socialist newspaper, 1 February 2007

BP condemned over safety standards

A RECENT US report slammed Britain's biggest oil company BP for flouting safety standards in this very dangerous industry. In 2005 chemicals caught fire in BP's Texas City oil refinery. This was the US's worst industrial incident for a decade, killing 15 workers and injured over 170.

Roger Shrives

The site's director admitted that the refinery was held together by 'Band Aid' and 'superglue' for years before the fatal fire. The fire brigade said there was an average of one blaze a week.

In 2004, a worker was boiled alive there in the 23rd fatal accident in 30 years. Leaky pipes were patched up using temporary clamps and valves. Alarms and instruments were not working properly.

Management focused on keeping production going and the profits rolling in. BP bosses had ordered a 25% saving on costs.

Before that, former owners Amoco had cut maintenance spending by 84% between 1992 and 2000.

BP's funding was too low but spending was not increased until after the 2005 incident.

The US chemical safety board says there is an 'iron-clad case' for pinning some responsibility for the incident on budget cuts.

BP has now been forced to 'clean up' at a cost of 3.5 billion. But BP has been 'cleaning up' for years. Their profits totalled 11 billion last year, rising 25% from 2005 to 2006.

The report said BP's management in London failed to inculcate a culture of "process safety" when highly flammable liquids were being mixed and heated.

The oil giant has got off lightly. Socialists say the whole oil industry - production, treatment, transportation etc - should be run under public ownership with democratic workers' control.

Safety must no longer play second fiddle to huge profits.

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
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In The Socialist 1 February 2007:

Private hands off our health service

NHS: Protests must reflect people's anger

NHS union attacked in Brighton


Workplace news

Striking for jobs and services

BA bosses make concessions


Socialist Students

Mass action can defeat fees

Building for the protests


Socialist Party news and analysis

Gay adoption: Christian hierarchy attacks equal rights

Reid's prison disaster

Review: Silent Accomplice


Northern Ireland

Sinn Fein's major U-turn


War and terrorism

Iraq - build for 24 February demo

Lewisham leads the way


International socialist news and analysis

CWI rally: An inspiring international meeting

CWI World Congress: Building the forces of socialism worldwide

Sri Lanka: Defend socialists under attack

Bolivia: Mass protests demand right-wing Prefect's resignation


Workplace news

Power industry: Fight this victimisation

Sacked electricians fight on

BP condemned over safety standards

Support the Unique Care workers

Southampton care workers on strike

National meeting on Single Status


 

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