CONSTRUCTION union UCATT, has reacted with fury after their memorial to construction workers killed in the building of London was criticised on The Today Programme.
Tim Knox, director of the little known Sir John Soames Museum, made the criticism.
He described the statue as looking like a ‘navvy’ and describing it as being unsuitable for its location in Tower Hill as this was a site of ‘spiritual and national resonance’ where ‘queens and saints were martyred.’
Alan Ritchie, general secretary of construction union UCATT, said: ‘Knox’s comments are elitist and offensive. It is the kind of class-ridden comments that give art critics a bad name.
‘Thousands of construction workers have lost their lives in building London. Knox clearly would rather that their sacrifice went unrecognised and ignored.’
The statue, which was unveiled in October 2006 and cost £100,000, is a construction worker, loosely based on Michelangelo’s David. The project took four years to come to fruition and won the support of Ken Livingstone Mayor of London, the Greater London Assembly, MPs and the trade union movement.
Since the statue’s unveiling the statue has become a focus for worker’s memorial day, which commemorates those who lose their lives while at work.
Many families of construction workers killed while at work, have also visited the statue since its unveiling.
Last year 2006/7 10-construction workers were killed in London. In the last five years over 350 workers have been killed in Britain.
In the current reporting year (April to March) at least 52 construction workers have already lost their lives.
Ritchie, added: ‘There is only one statue in the whole of the country to construction workers killed at work.
‘For some people like Mr Knox that is one too many. Strangely they tend to be the same people who consider the weekly deaths of construction workers as an unfortunate by-product of the industry.’
Despite his direct criticism of UCATT’s statue, the union was not given the opportunity to defend their installation.