France: BWI denounces accidents in Olympic Village and Grand Paris construction sites
“BWI denounces both accidents that occurred in January at the Saint-Denis construction sites in Paris and strongly urges SOLIDEO and Grand Paris to accept carrying out joint international inspections as we have done in Qatar with FIFA.”
This was the statement issued by BWI Secretary General Ambet Yuson in response to reports of accidents that happened in the Olympic Village and Grand Paris constructions sites in France.
On 24 January 2022, French trade unions reported that a worker at the Olympic Village in Saint Denis was crushed by a truck. The worker suffered serious injuries in his legs and arms.
Prior to this, on 5 January 2022, a fatal accident occurred at the St Denis Pleyel station part of Grand Paris. A steel plate weighing more than 300 kg fell on the head of a worker employed by Eiffage while cleaning a pole to box it on the lower floor. According to the French affiliates, the plate was moved by the co-partner’s subcontractor, the Belgian company Besix, which had put in place very strict safety rules. The subcontractor has not respected the protocol.
Investigations are ongoing on both cases.
BWI is very concerned. Poor occupational health and safety measures, even in European countries, can lead to serious accidents and deaths. It believes that the closer the deadline for the delivery of work, workers face more pressure and safety risks. Whatever the level of subcontracting, the results are dramatic.
It is in this context that BWI has met with SOLIDEO in December 2021 to propose a constructive partnership that will: 1) allow the free access of French trade union organisations to all the sites of the Village, and 2) setting up of joint international inspections with BWI.
For many years, BWI has been heavily involved in the campaign for sports and decent work, and defending the rights and conditions of workers who constructed FIFA's World Cup facilities. In the case of FIFA, BWI’s campaign has resulted in good cooperation among stakeholders ahead of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
BWI proposes the same strategy for the 2024 Olympic Games by working closely with its French trade union affiliates and examining what is happening in the construction and building materials sector, particularly on the workers' right to organise and negotiate, payment of wages, status of posted workers, and health and safety at work.
BWI very much welcomed the fact that the French Local Organising Committee for the 2024 Games involved the trade unions from the outset and adopted a social charter that addresses key human rights issues, including workers' rights.
However, the said charter is far from being fully implemented. This prompted BWI’s Yuson to ask: "When will SOLIDEO respond positively to joint international inspections with the BWI after the death of another worker?"