“On behalf of the Irish Congress Trade Unions I wish to welcome everyone here today on this important annual wreath laying event to mark International Workers’ Memorial Day. Today we join thousands of others across the world who have marked this date over the weekend. Today is a way of remembering those who have been killed or injured at or because of work or who have contracted a work-related illness or disease,” said Alison Millar.
Speaking at the wreath laying ceremony at the Stormont Estate, Ms Millar added: “Since we last met here a year ago we have unfortunately had more accidents in the workplace and more occupational diseases which has resulted in the unfortunate and timely death of colleagues – both those who are trade union members and those who were not. We stand in solidarity with the families and friends of each and everyone of our fellow workers to reflect on this senseless loss.
“Colleagues I hope you will forgive me for mentioning one of our trade union colleagues – Lyra McKee. As everyone will know over the last week and half there has rightfully been a huge out pouring of grief, shock and anger at the death of Lyra carried out by those in our society who would wish to take us back to the dark days.
“There must be no going back – we challenge those who know who was responsible for Lyra’s murder to advise the PSNI and bring her killers to justice. As many have already said since 18th April – Not in Our Name.”
Saturday 4th May – the May Day Parade in Belfast will be another opportunity for the trade union movement to remember Lyra and many others who have died carrying out their work.
The NIPSA General Secretary continued: “A big issue for society and the trade union movement to tackle is the issue Mental Health which has unfortunately also become a killer in the workplace with far too many members believing they have no alternative but to take their own lives.
“We must ensure employers address the issue of mental health and ensure our members health, safety and welfare is a key issue. When employers have happy and healthy employee they will be more productive workers and will be able to cope with the day to day stresses which arise in the workplace and outside of work.
“We must ensure that members feel supported both by their employers and their trade union – it must be ok to say I am not ok – I need help. At the moment in most instances that is not the case. Mental Health is something that has been hidden away for far too long.
“Colleagues, friends and comrades – Let us remember those who are no longer with us – and ensure that when we gather again here next year that we will all be able to say we have done our part to ensure as far as humanly possible workers are safer in the workplace and beyond.
“Thank you for attending.”