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|Updated: 18.12.2012 15:51
Die Toten von Sago waren vorauszusehen...
Die 12 Todesopfer der Explosion in der Sago-Zeche in Tallmannsville waren vorauszusehen: Die Zeche wurde alleine in den beiden letzten Jahren über 270 mal wegen Verstössen gegen Sicherheitsvorschriften registriert. Und musste für die schwereren Fälle dieser Liste insgesamt 24.000 Dollar Strafe bezahlen - rund 250 Dollar pro ernstem Vergehen. Dies auch weil die Regierung die Ausgaben für Inspektoren und Sicherheitsprogramme der Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) kontinuierlich gekürzt hat - für das Jahr 2006 um 4,9 Millionen Dollar. Zudem wurde die Personalpolitik der MSHA immer mehr in die Richtung verlagert, ehemalige Mitglieder der diversen Unternehmensleitungen der Kohlegesellschaften zu rekrutieren, deren eindeutige Ausrichtung das "Funktionieren" ist. So lässt sich die (englische, hiermit kurz zusammengefasste) Erklärung "The Sago Mine Tragedy" des (AfL-CIO) Working Families e-Activist Network vom 5. Januar 2006 zusammenfassen, die mit einem Zitat von Mother Jones endet: "Lasst uns für die Toten beten - und wie der Teufel für die Lebenden kämpfen".
The Sago Mine Tragedy
The nation watched with horror as we learned of the 12 deaths in the mine explosion in Tallmansville, W.Va. Our hearts sank with the grief of the miners' families, compounded by the tragically erroneous reports that most of their loved ones had survived.
All of our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of these men and to the men and women who worked side by side with them every day. As we watched the tragedy unfold and learned more about the mine, our grief was coupled with anger. We learned the Sago Mine had more than 270 safety violations over the past two years. In the past year alone, the mine was cited nine times for failing to enact a proper mine ventilation plan, a key to preventing fires and explosions in the mine.
Despite a record of violations and injuries much higher than the average for coal mines of similar size, the mine's owner paid just $24,000 in fines in the past two years--with most of the serious violations carrying a penalty of just $247 each--far from enough to force the company to change its practices.
Why so little enforcement? As the New York Times put it in an editorial this morning, "the Bush administration's cramming of important posts in the Department of the Interior with biased operatives from the coal, oil and gas industry is not reassuring about general safety in the mines." The administration followed a similar practice at the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), the agency responsible for overseeing mine safety, appointing coal industry management officials to key positions, who promoted "cooperation" over enforcement.
What's more, the administration and the Republican-led Congress has cut inspectors and worker safety programs from MSHA at a time when the coal industry is growing and more resources are needed to keep our miners safe. The 2006 budget passed by Congress cuts $4.9 million, after adjusting for inflation, from MSHA's 2005 budget.
And we cannot ignore the fact that workers in the Sago Mine did not have a union to back them up when they raised safety concerns. As John Bennett, whose father was killed in the mine accident, said on NBC's Today show yesterday:"We have no protection for our workers. We need to get the United Mine Workers back in these coal mines to protect [against] these safety violations, to protect the workers...."Now they got to work in unsafe conditions. That's why we got 12 dead men laying in the morgue right now, along with my father."
When the workers who go down in the coal mines every day have no one to speak for them, when former coal company officials are responsible for enforcing worker safety laws, when companies face only a slap on the wrist for serious, repeated violations that put their workers in grave danger, tragedies like the Sago Mine explosion are inevitable. We must do everything in our power to see safety measures are strongly enforced and workers have a real right to form a union without employer harassment or interference.
What happened to these 12 miners is an unspeakable tragedy. The grief of their families is unfathomable. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone touched by this disaster.
As mine workers' advocate Mother Jones told us, we must "pray for the dead, and fight like hell for the living" to see that this kind of tragedy does not happen again.
In solidarity, Working Families e-Activist Network, AFL-CIO
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