Staff at UNISON Scotland gathered on Monday 29 April to mark International Workers’ Memorial Day 2019.
Each year on International Workers’ Memorial Day (April 28) we remember the dead and fight for the living. This year’s theme is ‘dangerous substances – get them out of the workplace’.
Around the world one worker dies every 15 seconds. Up to 50,000 people die each year in the UK. Although few UNISON members die in workplace incidents many suffer injuries and work related ill health, from stress or back pain to RSI, bullying, harassment, and workplace violence. These affect them and their families.
Health and safety in our workplaces protects those at work. It also protects those in the wider community. Whether it is a hospital, school or care home, our elderly and vulnerable relatives, our children and our communities are also protected by measures intended to keep everyone safe from harm.
UNISON knows that the key to providing a good and safe service is well-trained employees who have the time and protective equipment to do their job properly.
Today we remember all those killed through work and at the same time continue to work to ensure that such tragedies are not repeated. We will do that by building trade union organisation, and campaigning for stricter enforcement with higher penalties for breaches of health and safety laws. It is a day to remember those who have died or been injured at work.
New evidence confirming a cancer risk to tyre and rubber workers may go ignored because of the UK government’s safety deregulation and cuts, the union Unite has warned. The union was commented after research published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine revealed that workers in the tyre and rubber industry remain at significant risk of developing cancers caused by exposure to N-nitrosamines and rubber dust.
Unite noted the study findings were “particularly timely as it comes just before International Workers’ Memorial Day as the theme for this year’s event is dangerous substances – get them out of the workplace,” with the 28 April global event having a particular focus on occupational cancer prevention. The union, which represents thousands of workers in the industry, says it is unable to properly address the new health concerns as there is no longer an effective body where it can raise such issues. It charges that this “is a result of the Conservative government’s attacks on safety laws.”
The union says the UK government safety regulator, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), previously had a Tyre and Rubber Industries Safety Action Group (TRISAG), with active involvement of both employers and unions, where safety concerns could be raised and dealt with. “However TRISAG has been scrapped as a result of government pressure and no similar body has replaced its work,” Unite says.
The new study confirms earlier findings that “N-nitrosamines exposures are associated with mortality from cancers of the bladder, lung, stomach, leukaemia, multiple myeloma, oesophagus, prostate, pancreas and liver.”
Unite national officer for the rubber industry Tony Devlin said: “This authoritative study is a stark reminder of the long-term health implications of being exposed to rubber. These dangers are being neglected as a direct result of the government’s cuts which are denying workers an effective voice in the corridors of power.” He added: “The lack of an effective forum to deal with exposure to cancer causing substances is another example of how the government has washed it hands of workplace health and safety. Cancer deaths will not be reduced unless effective measures are taken to cut exposure levels to N-nitrosamines and rubber dust.”
Unite news release. Mira Hidajat and others. Lifetime exposure to rubber dusts, fumes and N-nitrosamines and cancer mortality in a cohort of British rubber workers with 49 years follow-up, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, volume 76, number 4, pages 250-258, April 2019. doi: 10.1136/oemed-2018-105181
Cancers and their work causes: An ITUC/Hazards at-a-glance guide to cancer hazards. Also in French and Spanish.
Scottish Hazards has developed a map of memorials established across Scotland to commemorate International Workers Memorial Day as well as recording other memorials commemorating workers who have lost their lives in workplace tragedies and individuals who have left for work never to return to their families.
Pictures of memorials and individual cases will be added to in the coming weeks and months and if you know of any family who would like their story told please contact Scottish Hazards.
Likewise if you know of a memorial in your community that marks an incident where workers have been killed at work please send details to email@example.com
|Aberdeen||Persley Walled Garden, Bridge of Don||Sunday 28th April||12.30pm for 1.00pm|
|Alexandria||Memorial Tree, Christie Park||Saturday 27th April,||1.00pm|
|Alloa||Workers Memorial adjacent to Clackmannanshire Council Headquarters||Friday 26th April||10.30am|
|Bathgate||Workers Memorial, Bathgate Sports Centre, Torpichen Road||Sunday 28th April||12.30pm|
|Bonnyrigg||Michael McGahey Memorial, George V Park, Bonnyrig||Sunday, 28 April||12.30pm|
|Clydebank||Truth and Justice Square, Dumbarton Road||Saturday 27 April||11.00am|
|Coatbridge||Summerlee Industrial Museum, Heritage Way, Coatbridge||Sunday 28th April||12 noon|
|Dundee||Memorial Tree, adjacent to Discovery Point, Riverside Drive||Sunday 28th April||12 noon|
|Edinburgh||Memorial and Tree, West Princes Street Gardens||Sunday 28th April||1.00pm|
|Falkirk||Municipal Buildings, West Bridge Street, Falkirk||Sunday 28th April||12 noon|
|Fife||Memorial Tree, Beveridge Park||Saturday 27th April||11.00am|
|Greenock||Grand Hall, Inverclyde Council HQ followed by wreath laying in Clyde Square||Friday 27th April||11.45am|
|Glasgow||Workers Memorial, People’s Palace/ Winter Gardens, Glasgow Green||Sunday, 28th April||12 noon|
|Hamilton||Townhouse, Beckford Street||Sunday, 28th April,||11.45am|
|Inverness||Workers Memorial Friar’s Shott/Huntly Street, Inverness||Saturday 27th April||12.45pm for 1.00pm|
|Irvine||Memorial Garden, Kilwinning Road||Thursday 25th April||6.30pm|
|Kilmarnock||Memorial Tree, Dean Country Park||Saturday 27th April||10.45am for 11.00am|
|Paisley||Workers Memorial , Renfrewshire House, Cotton Street||Sunday 28th April||1.00pm|
|Renfrew||Workers Memorial Cairn, Robertson Park, Paisley Road||Sunday 28th April||11.00am|
|Stirling||International Workers Memorial Tree, Viewforth, Pitt Terrace||Thursday 25 April||1.20pm at the tree|