It was an extensive Wreaken Constructions facility in the industrial arms of one of the bigger stations in the system. Shift 3 just had their second break, the slightly longer one for having a snack, a smoke (in designated areas) and a breather. Following a call for an exchange of ideas and opinions some of the workers assembled in one of the bigger mess halls just outside the company yards. Some initiative called the ‘Workers Relief And Care Program’ had rented it from the local caterer and when all had sat down, Relief Consultant Danner Trumble addressed the blue collar workers that had come:
“My fellow workers, miners, smelters, constructioneers, colleagues and dear friends.
One month and more have passed, since one of our dear colleagues has come to death in a most tragic accident in some remote and surprisingly inaccessible stretch of space. One month of silence, one month of ‘Carry on! Nothing to see!’ One month of executives ducking and looking away, even in the face of their own grave faults. One month of not publicly saying sorry, one month of going business as usual.
They hope to sit it out, of course, while one dear fellow in your midst was killed. Plain and simple: Killed.
An accident they say? Ha! Accidents imply lack of intent. But here I say to you the intent was clear. Why else do you have to work in desolate work conditions with cheap equipment, next to no spare parts and the ever looming threat that they’ll find someone else to do your job if you disagree or just get sick?
Lack of intent? I beg you, my colleagues! The intent is clear: Profit. Profit on the backs of what they just consider working cattle. If they – those execs in their fancy suits – held any value in you or the tireless sweat you pour into their industrial maws, they would long have given you that which is the most basic need of any human being: Acknowledgement, recognition and security.
But they fail in all and call upon their lawyers, government pals and spin doctors to make other believe otherwise: That it’s all your fault! That everything would be fine if only you behaved. That you conformed and performed and please, please, please abstain from thinking too much.
This is your narcotic, free of charge, and it comes directly from your employer. The one who promises you safety but drops you like a foul Lorus fruit when you start to worry too much.
But by all means, you have the damn right to worry. You are not that helpless and without rights, however antiquated that may sound. The Federation set up rules and principles for both the individual and companies alike in order to the rule out the exploitation of the human being. They may not like it, but you, my friends belong to that wonderful species and we from the Workers Relief And Care Program are here to tell you that the galaxy watches. They partake in your troubles and they are worried all across industrial space that something similar may happen to them.
Today I am here to inform you on a few things. When your shift is over there are facilities where you can meet me and some equally worrying friends and we can discuss things further. There will also be a limited supply of anti-radiation treatments and we have taken the liberty of providing a small buffet with some local food. Nothing major, but we insist you know there are some who care.
Obviously, your employer leaves the care about you to others. However, we will make then remember.
They conduct their ‘manufacturing’ behind an iron curtain that is a permit-locked sector and apparently do nothing about industrial safety. Because nobody cares, because nobody looks that way and because they know you want to keep your jobs.”
“They say ‘Manufacturing is a dangerous business’! Oh yeah? Then those suits in their airco’d offices with a view would damn well remember their responsibilities and provide you with a safe workplace. Or am I wrong? More than a month has passed since that tragic and fatal accident and not even did they have the dignity to reveal the victim’s identity or provide a statement about how they plan to avoid further deaths in their industrial facilities.
Must be very reassuring for you, my friends, to be left so much in the dark until a radiation spike lights up your co-worker next to you. I ask you: How do you feel?
I will say this to you: You are not the victims here! It’s dignity that’s put to rest first. Next comes the responsibility to avoid personal harm for those who labour in their sweat and blood to give company shareholders a nice bonus. Consider this: Dignity and security are sacrificed each and every day before your shift has even started. And they full well know.
Will you tolerate this? Death for profits?
I say to you, let first come dignity. Let there be measures of protection before you go to work once more. Never has a company bowed solely to the grumblings and murmur of some who say ‘This must change somehow’. Always has it worked when the wheel of industry grinds to a halt. Always has it worked when the smelters stop to smelt and the iron stops to flow. Only then, when the stock markets demand an answer, come they to reason and start to barter.
You, my friends and colleagues, are the coal workers of old. You are the breathing lung of industry, the beating heart of a galctic engine. You have earned some rest, while others must deal with your health so that you can breathe and beat once more. Wreaken is under obligation of delivery. You are not. We have arranged for extensive health counseling and lessons on industrial safety. If I am not mistaken, by the statutes of the Federation Health Services you are granted the right of free charity medical assistance in times of personal danger. We have chartered two Rescue One Anaconda-class hospital cruisers and a small staff of radition specialists willing to give you a 24-hour treatment. We have some shuttles waiting so once your shift is over, and should you be interested in this free 24-hours medical care please apply inside landing bay 13 to Doctor Willerson Ffolks. He will set you up. Meanwhile, our legal advice specialists have outlined some statements based on Federation principles they will forward to Wreaken to make clear you are not to be held accountable for medical services you attend to in your spare time.
Let them know that not until they come to reason the heart and lung of manufacturing will take a well deserved break.
I will be open for questions so long as your break allows you, but I also urge you to return to work until your shift is over. We will see you then.
When shift 3 was over, landing bay 13 was filling up quite rapidly.