Veolia has changed its public stance over the death of a worker on a bin collection round last month.
Inside Croydon was first to report the fatality, which happened in Thornton Heath on July 25, one of the hottest days ever recorded in London.
More than two weeks have passed since the incident, yet neither Croydon Council nor their contractors, Veolia, have voluntarily published any information about the circumstances surrounding the man’s death.
The man, who has still not been named, was aged 43 and was hired in from an agency to provide cover for Veolia staff. It was the man’s second shift with the council’s rubbish contractors.
The Coroner has yet to issue a report into the sudden death.
Inside Croydon published a statement from Veolia last week. A similar statement was provided on Friday at the request of the Croydon Guardian. Veolia’s statement was subtly, but significantly, changed.
“We can confirm a member of our collection team, in their 40s, was taken ill without warning at around 1.30pm in Thornton Heath, Croydon on Thursday, July 25. An ambulance was called immediately and he was taken to St Georges Hospital for treatment where he died later that evening,” Veolia’s revised statement read.
The words without warning have been added to what the company had issued previously.
There’s gathering public disquiet about the way in which Veolia and Croydon Council have sought to cover-up the worker’s death while providing one of the local authority’s key services.
As Inside Croydon reported a week ago, “Some anecdotal reports, which have not been confirmed, suggest that the 43-year-old worker had reported feeling unwell while doing the rubbish round with the Veolia truck.”
Others, including Veolia staff, have since come forward and repeated the claim that the worker had indeed complained of feeling unwell before he collapsed. This would contradict Veolia’s new claim that he died “without warning”.
Those who have been in contact with Inside Croydon have all suggested that although the man had phoned in to say he was sick and wanted to be relieved of his duties, he was warned by his supervisor to stay on shift, or risk not being hired again.
“Obviously this guy had a family, and was threatened with being sacked because they were feeling unwell,” one source said. They alleged that workers on a bin round are provided with only small amounts of water during their shift.
“This is disgusting treatment. The supervisors expect their workers to stand behind a sweltering bin lorry in full working uniform. If someone is unwell, shouldn’t this be taken into account?”
Neither of the two securely salaried, office-based Veolia press officers that we contacted, nor Stuart Collins, the Croydon council cabinet member responsible for hiring Veolia, and the current chair of the South London Waste Partnership, returned Inside Croydon‘s calls today.
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