Safe work is a right, not a privilege. Each year on 28 April trade unionists mark Workers Memorial Day.
It is alarming to note that every year worldwide, more people are killed at work than in wars. Each year, 28 April is designated as Workers’ Memorial Day, providing the opportunity to reflect on the many people who are killed, seriously injured or made ill while doing their jobs.
Wales TUC President Shavanah Taj honours those who have suffered by calling on people to join a union to fight for a stronger voice at work and improve workplace health and safety.
Most workers don’t die of mystery ailments, or in tragic accidents. They die because an employer decided their safety wasn’t that important. Workers’ Memorial Day commemorates those workers and so if you’re not in a union, join a union. If you’re a member of a union, become active and become a union heath and safety rep. Unionised workplaces are safer workplaces and today on International Workers’ Memorial Day we remember the dead and fight for the living.
This year Workers’ Memorial Day falls on a Sunday so you may like to organise an event in your workplace on the following Monday, 29 April. Your event could be a minute’s silence, a commemorative rally, a workplace meeting or just a small get-together. You could also arrange a larger commemorative event such as planting a memorial tree in a public place, putting up a plaque, dedicating a sculpture, a piece of art, or a bench, to remember workers who have been killed at the workplace or in the community.
Every year more people are killed at work than in wars. Most don’t die of mystery ailments, or in tragic “accidents”. They die because an employer decided their safety just wasn’t that important a priority. Workers’ Memorial Day (WMD) commemorates those workers.
Workers’ Memorial Day is held on 28 April every year, all over the world workers and their representatives conduct events, demonstrations, vigils and a whole host of other activities to mark the day.
The day is also intended to serve as a rallying cry to “remember the dead, but fight for the living”.
In 2016 the theme for the day is “Strong Laws – Strong enforcement – Strong Unions” because across the world we are seeing growing attacks on health and safety protection, including in Britain where the Government have removed protection form millions of self-employed workers, and across Europe where the European Commission are pursuing a dangerous de-regulatory strategy. However strong laws are not enough if they are not going to be enforced. That is why we need proper inspections and enforcement action against those who break the laws. Here in the UK the number of inspections has fallen dramatically in the past five years, however in many other countries enforcement has always been non-existent. That is why we also need strong unions. Unionised workplaces are safer, yet the Government is trying to stop unions protecting the health and safety of their members by restricting the right of health and safety representatives to take time off to keep the workplace safer, and also trying to reduce our right to strike when things go wrong.
Information about the venue:
The event will be held at 1 Cathedral Rd, Cardiff at 11 am until 12.30. A small buffet will be provided.
UK national trade union federation TUC has published a regularly updated listing of Workers’ Memorial Day events across Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Over 20,000 people die in the UK every year because of their work. Most of these because of exposure to dangerous substances. This year the theme for the day is “removing exposure to hazardous substances in the workplace“Hazardous substances are found in almost every workplace in the UK and many workers have no protection against the possible effects, despite the fact that tens of thousands of workers have their health destroyed by asthma, dermatitis, lung disorders and cancers because of exposures. They range from cleaning fluids in almost every workplace, silica dust in construction, tobacco smoke in prisons right through to blood and faeces in health and social care.
In addition to hazardous substances many unions and trades councils will be campaigning on the general theme of demanding better regulation, greater inspections and an end to the anti-health and safety rhetoric from the government and their allies in the press.