Brum metal plant tragedy: a glimpse of the future?

July 9, 2016 at 6:47 pm (Brum, Human rights, immigration, Jim D, tragedy, workers)

Family and friends gather to listen to a press conference at the scene

Above: friends, families and onlookers at the scene

Saibo Sillah, Ousman Jabbie, Mohammed Jangana, Alimano Jammeh  and Bangaly Dukureth were crushed to death at work in my home town of Birmingham on Thursday. They were all Muslims and  EU migrants, working through an agency for the minimum wage and sending most of their pay back to their families.

The firm they worked at, Shredmet Limited, owned by Hawkeswood Metal Recycling, has previously been involved in three serious incidents and been fined £60,000 by the Health ad Safety Executive when a lack of guarding led to a man’s arm being crushed. The same site was hit by a huge, unexplained fire in 2011.

Hawkeswood Metal Recycling processes more than 500,000 tonnes of scrap metal each year. The firm began trading more than 40 years ago and has a customer base that includes local authorities, major PLCs and smaller independent companies.

It is a business with an annual turnover of more than £30 million, reporting a net profit in 2015 of £327,000 in accounts submitted in February this year. It employs 26 people.

The victims were the sort of hard-working migrants that the Brexiteers want driven out of Britain. And the inadequate health and safety legislation that failed to protect these men, will be even further watered down if the Brexiteers have their way.

The five men died when a huge concrete wall collapsed on top of them. The 15ft tall wall, made of one-and-a-half ton concrete blocks, came crashing down on the men at the Shredmet site in Aston Church Road, Nechells. As the wall fell, blocks of metal also rained down on the men: the five had no chance of survival.

A sixth man miraculously managed to escape, digging his own way out of the rubble despite his leg having been broken.

Detective Superintendent Mark Payne of West Midlands Police said: “I’ve seen the scene and nobody is alive in that scene. We have done absolutely everything as you’d expect to check there is no opportunity to save a life. Without being too graphic, there’s no possibility of anyone being alive in there.”

Meanwhile, families and friends gathered outside the gates of the plant, anxious for news of loved ones and workmates. Local residents put out drinks and food for the grieving visitors.

Manka Sawo was alerted to the tragedy by the man who managed to escape, and who was taken to hospital for treatment to his broken leg.

“I know all of them,” he said. “I knew Saibo Sillah from a community centre where we used to pray together.

“Saibo had seven children, including two-year-old twins. He was a very, very decent guy. I’m devastated. This is a sad day. They are all from The Gambia. Some of them lived in Spain and Denmark before coming here. I heard the news from the man who broke his leg. He phoned his family from hospital, and we came here to find out what had happened. I knew one of the men very closely; yesterday we celebrated Eid together. It’s very, very sad.”

A friend of Mr Jammeh and Mr Jabbie said: “Ousman only moved over here a week ago and moved in with Alimamo. He was waiting for his wife and family to come over, who are still in north Gambia. Alimamo’s wife and children are due to arrive on Sunday. They don’t have any phones so there’s no way of contacting them. We will only be able to tell them when they arrive that their husband and father has died. It’s going to leave them heartbroken.”

Meanwhile, Mr Jagana’s devastated friend Mohammed Kamarah said: “He has a wife and a daughter, who is less than one year old. His family are praying for him. They are distraught beyond words. He was a good hard-working man and a great friend.”

Scrapyard worker Matt Bowen, who was off work for the day because his son was ill, posted a poignant message on Facebook.

“I hope you rest in peace lads, I truly do. Part of me is sorry I wasn’t in today, the other half is glad my son was poorly. Words cannot describe the thoughts that are going though my head, let alone the lads that were in work today. My thoughts and prayers are with your families who you worked so hard for. God be with you brothers, I am heartbroken, to say the least.”

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  1. Glasgow Working Class said,

    Quite disgusting attempting to associate this tragedy with brexit. The British trade unions made gains for workers over decades. The EU is a corrupt gravy train.

  2. Rilke said,

    Whenever possible now, it is necessary for thinking left wingers to articulate the serious, coherent and finessed analysis and commentary on the EU and the present crisis. The rhetoric and slogans of much of the left is merely a simple-minded parallel to the simple-minded slogans of the right. Please inform me how simply shouting; ‘EU bureaucrat’, ‘Maastricht parasite’, ”gravy train gusslers’, ‘plutocratic gang’, ‘German expansionists’ ‘decadent French drones’, ‘Continental fascists’, ‘corrupt lazy Italy’ from the so-called left, is any different from shouting ‘parasite EU immigrant’, ‘rotten EU corrupt Europeans’, ‘waste of decent tax payers money’, ‘ British jobs for decent British workers, no more EU migrants’, ‘Poles out’, ‘lazy greedy Greeks’, ‘EU steal our pensions’ (an actual Daily Mial heading)?
    I am sick to death of morons such as Glasgow shouting these worthless phrases and claiming to be of the ‘left’. I can easilly train a parrot to keep chanting such phrases. At least try and put up a series of propositions and assertions that are not simply orotund idiotic accusations. All the anti-EU left is doing with this constant chanting of moronic accusations is contributing to the current climate of blame and demagoguery. Either contribute as a thinking person or piss off, the left does not need tap room table-thumpers and football terrace chanters at this time.

    • seditionsquare said,

      Take your own blame and demagoguery elsewhere, troll.

  3. seditionsquare said,

    Jim, I think the comments about “Brexiteers” is inappropriate here, and stupid to boot. I voted Leave and I would have kept every last one of those men here, in safe working conditions. Let’s keep our attention focused on the people responsible.

  4. Rilke said,

    You have just voted to turn many thousands of European workers here in the UK into ‘immigrants’ and contributed to their feeling of unsafely. This includes my wife. You are an ignoramus. I sincerely hope I bump into some more of your ilk, and we will see how you fair with your anti-European blather then. I have already dealt with a couple of anti EU lumpen drunks in town shouting at my wife, you might as well be another. You think you can threaten peoples’ families with your ‘British jobs for British workers’ anti immigrant and anti European shite? You appear to think you are good at getting rid of people to some place called ‘elsewhere’. ‘You’ would have ‘kept’ these workers ‘safe’. Maybe in your Brown Shirt fantasy you ‘keep people safe’. Idiot. Your kind are not welcome among socialists. Go back to the beer hall and stay there with your UKIP populist pals.

    • seditionsquare said,

      No, I only voted to leave – not for any of that. Stop being hysterical and clear off, troll.

      • Jim Denham said,

        The “left” Brexiteers have to be made to take responsibility for the racism they have helped unleash: and it was entirely predictable.

      • seditionsquare said,

        Why should I take responsibility for the racism of other people?

      • Jim Denham said,

        Because you are – presumably – a grown-up who needs to take responsibility for the foreseeable outcome of the political course you advocated.

      • seditionsquare said,

        Why should I take responsibility for the outcome? I’m not a bureaucrat, or a campaign manager, or a street-bound skinhead. I was asked my opinion on the EU, and I have given it. Everyone pretending to be on the left can carry on demonising the public for voting the ‘wrong way’ (without understanding why they voted that way and calling racism) but know that it’s a complete waste of your time.

      • Jim Denham said,

        I honestly don’t know what to make of your reply, “sedition”: it is undeniable that the Brexit campaign and result let to a ‘blip’ in racist attacks, abuse, graffiti, etc: this was predictable and *was* predicted by me and others: do you take responsibility for your part in this, or not?

      • seditionsquare said,

        If I walk around town tonight and get attacked, who is to blame? We might argue that it’s unwise to walk out so late, but the undeniable truth is the attackers are responsible for the crime. And, by the way, I believe the EU is responsible for dividing the working classes and creating racial/national tensions in the first place.

      • Jim Denham said,

        What a wretched, evasive response: all the evidence (incluiding from the police) is that the Brexit campaign and result led – directly – to a significant increase in racist attacks and abuse.

      • seditionsquare said,

        Well, I’ve got some news for you Jim: I had no part in the “Brexit campaign”. In fact, I criticised the Leave campaign in my blog (link below). I also thought it was very telling that the Remain campaign never really fought the ‘Turkey in the EU’ thing, just denied it was happening. And, as I pointed out, both campaigns ignored how anti-migrant the EU really is. Should I hold you responsible for all the migrant bodies found in Spanish vans or floating in the Mediterranean? What about all the migrants attacked by Hungarian police goons? Is that your fault too? Thought not.

      • Jim Denham said,

        You voted Leave: you must take responsibility for the repercussions, including the sharp increase in racist attacks and abuse that are a direct consequence: you’re in denial.

      • seditionsquare said,

        Why ‘must’ I? How am I responsible, Jim? You can’t even explain it!

      • Jim Denham said,

        I just did.

      • seditionsquare said,

        I seem to remember you calling pro-immigration left- Brexiteers ‘idiots’. I think you’re 100% more responsible for the resurgence of the right than I am.

      • Jim Denham said,

        The pro-Brexit “left” have to face up to the verifiable *fact* that their stance has led to an increase in racism: people like you, “sedition” are in denial.

      • seditionsquare said,

        My ‘stance’ was that the EU is a racist, divisive institution. Yours was that voting leave is a victory for the right. Which ‘stance’ cedes ground to the right?

      • Jim Denham said,

        More to the point: which has some relationship with reality?

      • seditionsquare said,

        Well, either mine does, on the basis of very real events like Operation Triton and selling migrants to Turkey (for a real 6bn Euros), or yours does. Which means that left-wing people have nothing to say about globalisation any more, xenophobia, or anti-democracy. And that means that this vapid left will have abandoned the (overwhelmingly working-class) people that voted to leave.

      • Jim Denham said,

        I am not in favour of abandoning workers who blamed immigrants and ‘foreigners’ for their present plight: they must be talked to, argued with and educated in a sensitive and sensible manner. The people who I have no time for are the irresponsible leftists who fuelled racism and helped shift UK politics decisively to the right by advocating Brexit. These people can never be forgiven, and must constantly be reminded of their stupidity, sectarianism, opportunism and folly.

      • seditionsquare said,

        Let me know how it goes ‘educating’ the workers in a ‘sensitive and sensible ‘manner’. I hope you don’t call them idiots, too. Maybe they’ll show a bit of self-respect and slam the door in your condescending face.

      • Jim Denham said,

        I would never call honest, decent workers who voted for Brexit for non-racist (if confused) reasons “idiots”: but I would most certainly describe the leftists who advocated “Brexit”/”Lexit” as idiots, and worse.

  5. Political Tourist said,

    Thoughts are with those poor families.

    • Glasgow Working Class said,

      I am sure they are! My thoughts are that Britain should stop countries off loading their surplus Labour to be exploited. Those countries are negating their responsibility to their people.

  6. Rilke said,

    Try it. ‘Clear off’ just about sums up the political sophistication of you lot. I would give you maybe two rounds tops before you shit it. You think a research scientist with a doctorate, post-doctorate and a member of the British Academy is ‘surplus labour’ just because she comes from Europe? You semi-educated goons. This is the typical derogatory vision of ‘foreigners’ from the anti EU little Englanders.
    I know your type well enough. You simply fear the presence of others who work harder and are more educated than you. Why blame EU citizens for the fact that you are semi-educated and lazy?
    You are also dishonest about yourselves. Sedition is resentful 2-2 material for sure, maybe low 2-1 if he sucked up to his tutors. Glasgow is a semi or low skilled idler and Tourist is diploma level clerk caste for certain. Exactly the ‘civilised’ social layers who prefer anti EU prejudice and anti European bigotry as an acceptable alternative to full BNP racism. In other words, a agglomeration of petty bourgeois and lumpen. Your class ambivalences and cultural failures are your own. Your fake and oily sentiment is only the expressed corollary of your original vindictiveness – a guilt reflex. You need to get your resentments properly cathected before you get hurt.

    • Glasgow Working Class said,

      Since when was polictics sophisticated?

    • seditionsquare said,

      Looks like the troll is a psychiatrist as well!

  7. Rilke said,

    Personal intentions are not synonymous with material political outcomes, but they are linked in the manifest political reality these intentions engender. Sedition says he voted the way he did with no intention towards racism and xenophobia. Who can disagree? Nobody. There were those who supported Franco because they were ‘good Catholics’ not becasue they were fascists. Who can say they lied or were hypocritical? Nobody. Intentions and inclinations are by definition in the mind not in the results. Yet the results speak for themsleves and not to see these dire political results as linked to failed, ignorant or misguided intent is simply cowardly and devious. Brexit voters such as Sedition are like drunk drivers who say they did not intend to plaugh over a pedestrian. In any case, they can always say that there are worse crimes elswhere. It is just the usual shallow, semi intellectual blather one has come to expect.
    Pound goes down after Leave vote – ‘would have occured any way’.
    Racist attacks up after vote – ‘utterly coincidental’.
    Unemployment rising after vote – ‘inevitable and not connected.’
    Investment moving outwards after vote – ‘better for holidays at home.’
    Commonwelath cheap labour (Sri Lanka, Lesotho, Bangladesh, Rawanda all part of commonwealth) to replace EU migrant labout after vote – ‘not what I voted for’.
    UK dropped below France in world trade rating after vote – ‘EU will go bankrupt some day’.
    See? It is easy to be a Brexiteer. Even I can do it.

    • seditionsquare said,

      Didn’t you pose as a philosopher at one point? Not sure how one squares that with the absurd voting leave-“supported Franco” metaphor. Particularly as the EU (like Franco) treats North Africans in much the same way. That the government and international capital aren’t prepared for a scenario they created is no business of mine. At least your fake bourgeois metal-buying business wasn’t affected though, right ‘comrade’?

      Also, that isn’t how one spells ‘plough’ – not even 2:2 material, Rilke!

  8. Rilke said,

    You need to check the concept of metaphor. Paul Ricoeur’s excellent book will assist you. Mind you, Ricoeur was a French hermeneutic thinker and it is highly unlikely that any anti-Cosmopolitan Brexiteer would get past the preface.
    I apologise for locating you at 2-2, it has obviously rankled. Perhaps you can pay for a taught MA and feel better about it.
    Gold is up to around 1020 per troy ounce. It will plateau out at 980 in my view. This high is 2011 financial crash level. This is a sure indication of the post-Leave economic contraction. Another one of those bizarre ‘outcomes’ that had nothing to do with the way people voted.

    • seditionsquare said,

      I think you need to read a fancy French book about apologies, and how yours wasn’t one. Not that I’m much bothered, because at least a 2-2 student would know how to spell ‘plough’ and know what a metaphor was before reading a book about it.

  9. Rilke said,

    I know, I know, Sedition, those ‘fancy French’ with their ‘fancy books’. Terrible really! Better to stick with good old stolid warmed-over English common sense eh? Enjoy Blackpool, they say the fry-ups are geat and go just right with the Union Jack t-shirts – no fancy French rubbish.
    In the Cratylus, Plato ruminates profoundly on metaphor, but of course he really should not have ‘bothered’. He should have well realised that a bunch of lower-middle class, flag-waving, small town bellies on legs, knew it all already. Strange though, that these same styleless wonders seem to think that ‘metaphor’ always belongs in the past tense. Metaphor for these flacid and obese minds always ‘was’, it never ‘is’. Perhaps the fancy expansiveness of figural language makes the uneasy.

  10. seditionsquare said,

    Tom Paine’s Common Sense probably is better, but then all books are only as good as one’s reading comprehension – worthless to you, then! Have fun ruminating on the blurbs of more books you haven’t read troll, and catch you next time.

  11. Rilke said,

    Where did you find such wonderful phrases Ludovico?

    • Glasgow Working Class said,

      Rike, were you bullied at school for being best boy? Did you make a few bob helping the lower orders when at school? What hat size do you wear? Have you been to Blackpool?

      • seditionsquare said,

        No, but he has read the back of an excellent French book that deconstructs the cultural tropes regarding Blackpool and aims to re-evaluate the city for a post-modern audience.

  12. Glasgow Working Class said,

    seditionsquare, hopefully old Blackpool will be around for decades and the trams. I spelt Rilks name wrong last comment and I humbly apologise tae him. Must be a man as women just rabbit on incoherently about shopping and such things moreso when in Blackpool.

  13. Rilke said,

    ‘Your words are likes waves, sameness of rising and falling.”

  14. Political Tourist said,

    Hmmm no false consciousness for English workers then, Jim?

    • Jim Denham said,

      I’d say the Brexit vote was a classic case of false consciousness

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