Unite the Union (Gibraltar Branch) in collaboration with the Gibraltar Cultural Service will be commemorating Workers Memorial Day with a ceremony on the 28th April at the Alameda Gardens commencing at 10.30am.
Where: National Covid Memorial Wall, North Wing, Lambeth Palace Rd, South Bank, London SE1 3FT
When: From 11:30 hours, Wednesday 28 April
The general secretary of the UK’s leading union, Unite, is joining Unite families who lost loved ones to Covid-19 to walk the memorial wall this International Workers’ Memorial Day.
Len McCluskey and the families will also join with TUC representatives to observe the minute’s silence for International Workers’ Memorial Day, which will be held at midday.
Unite is throwing its weight behind calls for a statutory public inquiry into the government’s handling of the pandemic, recently rejected by ministers, and is backing the campaign for the National Covid Memorial Wall in Lambeth, south London, to be made permanent.
The memorial wall is made up of 150,000 individual painted hearts, one for every UK person who lost their life to the disease in the past year. The wall is around half a kilometre long and takes around 10 minutes to walk.
Len McCluskey will join Hannah and Leshie, who both lost their fathers, both key workers, to the disease last year. Hannah’s father caught the virus while travelling to his work in a factory, while Leshie’s father was one of 27 London bus drivers who died of the disease between March and May last year.
Speaking ahead of his visit, Len McCluskey said: “You cannot help but be moved by this campaign. In the past year, 150,000 people lost their lives, leaving 150,000 families and countless loved ones with huge holes in their lives. For all those who have sacrificed and suffered through this terrible time, we owe it to them to walk this wall.
“The scale of loss in the UK is so high relative to other countries that the reasons for this have to be looked at by a public inquiry. The people we lost must be remembered and honoured, and the whole country, including the government, has to learn the lessons of this crisis.
“Dozens of Unite members died from this dreadful sickness and they will be in my thoughts today. It will be a huge privilege to walk the wall with Unite family members. I am so grateful to them for the work that they are doing on behalf of all those who lost their lives, and the bereaved who remain, to deliver not just a place of national remembrance of this time, but justice.
“Unite offers the bereaved families our full support in securing a permanent home for this incredible wall, and in the continued battle for the full and frank public inquiry the country needs.”
Notes to editors:
Len McCluskey will walk the wall with members of the families of two Unite members who lost their lives to Covid-19:
Leshie Chandrapala, London
Leshie lost her father, Ranjith, to Covid-19 in April 2020.
Ranjith was one of the 27 bus drivers who died of Covid-19 in London between March and May 2020.
According to the Institute of Health Equity, bus drivers were more than twice as likely to die than other Londoners. Leshie wants a public inquiry into the decisions that led to her father’s death.
Hannah Brady, Manchester
Hannah’s father was a key worker in a factory when he contracted coronavirus.
He died at the age of 55 following 42 nights spent in intensive care.
Hannah fears that her dad was exposed to Covid-19 on public transport to and from work.
Hannah has received abuse online for talking about the loss of her father.
For media enquires ONLY contact Unite communications officer Ryan Fletcher on 07849 090215.
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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.
Workers are suffering a mental health ‘epidemic’, a UK and Ireland-wide survey of Unite workplace representatives has revealed.
Unite, the UK and Ireland’s largest union, said there is a ‘clear link’ between the increase in stress brought on by the pandemic and called on employers to help prevent the crisis being carried forward as the country opens up.
The health and safety-focused survey of 1,400 Unite reps, from across all sectors of the economy, found that 83 per cent are dealing with an increase in members reporting mental health-related problems.
Mental health issues also came top of workers’ concerns during a similar survey last year. However, there has been a huge 18-point increase from the 65 per cent reported in 2020.
The survey also found that regulators and health authorities carrying out workplace visits are not routinely speaking to union reps. These organisations include the Health and Safety Executive, local authorities, Public Health England/Wales and others.
Only a third of respondents whose workplaces had been visited reported that inspectors had spoken to reps during the visit, despite it being vital to gaining an accurate picture of health and safety on site.
Unite called the finding ‘alarming’ as it had previously raised the ‘potentially dangerous’ issue with regulators, who all insisted that speaking to reps during visits is a matter of course.
The union said regulators need to begin publishing records on whether workplace reps have been spoken to, something they are not currently required to do.
Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “This survey shows there is an epidemic of mental health issues being suffered by workers across all sectors of the economy.
“April is Stress Awareness Month and employers need to be aware that there is a clear link between the explosion in mental ill-health and the stressors of the pandemic.
“As the country and the economy come out of the coronavirus freeze, the after effects of the pandemic are still going to be felt, including their impact on people’s mental health.
“During the week of International Workers’ Memorial Day, we should remember that many workers not only paid a physical price during the fight against Covid-19, but a psychological one too.
“Employers need to be aware of this and in partnership with trade unions implement mental health friendly policies to help prevent the psychological toll of the pandemic being carried forward longer than it needs to be.
“The survey also revealed a worrying trend of regulators not speaking to union reps during workplace safety inspections. This means regulators are not getting a full and accurate picture of the environments they are visiting, which is potentially dangerous.
“Unite has raised this issue before with all the relevant regulators and health authorities, but it is clear it is not being addressed. Direction requiring them to publish records of speaking to reps during visits is now needed.”
The survey’s full findings are available here.
Workers’ Memorial Day, held on 28 April every year, brings together workers and their representatives from all over the world to remember the dead and fight for the living. In 2021 the theme is: Health and Safety is a fundamental workers’ right.
Remember those we have lost and
organise in their memory.
The Covid-19 crisis underscores the need for our mental health services to be supported and for workers to know that there is help for them when they need it.
While we may not be able to attend the memorial events which usually take place, we want to build a day of ‘virtual’ action on Wednesday 28 April.
Hold a minute’s silence
Join in the minute’s silence at 11:00, which is held every year to commemorate lost workers.
Until then make sure you join a union and and get active, unions keep workers safer so join Unite today.
For further resources, including #IWMD21 posters, please visit Unite at Work – Health and Safety.
#IWMD20 Health Sector workers (GHA) in #Gibraltar paying tribute to the tens of thousands of healthcare workers worldwide who have lost their lives due to the Coronavirus pandemic. #NEVERFORGOTTEN Unite the Union Gibraltar
The #Covid19 pandemic has focused attention on workplace health & safety. We need to ensure that focus remains once the emergency is over. As Cork-born Mother Jones famously said – remember the dead, and fight for the living! #IWMD20 #RespectWorkers pic.twitter.com/UKJk2Ay7wc
— UNITE union Ireland (@UniteunionROI) April 24, 2020
The #Covid19 pandemic has focused attention on workplace health & safety. We need to ensure that focus remains once the emergency is over. As Cork-born Mother Jones famously said – remember the dead, and fight for the living! #IWMD20 #RespectWorkers
The 28th April is International Workers’ Memorial Day, the day each year when workers come together and remember those who have been killed and injured at work. The slogan for the day is “remember the dead – fight for the living”. (#IWMD20).
11am Sunday morning, 12 April, flowers are laid to mourn construction workers who will lose their lives unnecessarily during the coronavirus pandemic.
The respectful ceremony took place at the ‘Building Worker’ bronze statue at Tower Hill, which was commissioned as a memorial for all those who have died on building sites by the construction union UCATT (now a part of UNITE). The symbolic event was to mourn the dead, but also the fight for the living, and was carried out as part of the mass #ShutTheSites movement that has been trending on social media for the past 2 weeks, calling for non-essential building sites to be closed.
Video link: https://youtu.be/5zuNNCEijFo
A new Shut The Sites FaceBook page was launched on Saturday: https://www.facebook.com/ShutTheSites/
Shut The Sites issued the following statement:
“The Bronze Building Worker statue has for many years been a memorial for workers who have died on construction sites. Flowers have been respectfully laid today to mourn the dead. But in this time of crisis we should also fight to protect the living. None of us want to be here in 6 months time laying a bigger wreath to thousands of construction workers and their family members who may lose their lives unnecessarily.
If construction workers are building a Nightingale Hospital or carrying out emergency maintenance on vital infrastructure, that’s clearly crucial to fight this pandemic. But hundreds of thousands of building workers are being forced to continue working on building sites by greedy developers and employers in order to build luxury flats, hotels and powers stations that will not be completed for at least another 5 years. None of these are essential.
Construction workers often travel on packed public transport or in shared minibuses, eat together in site canteens, live in huge site accommodation blocks and generally work in close proximity. No building worker in the country believes that construction can continue in any meaningful manner while complying with the 2m social distancing rules. Major contractors also have an appalling track record on health and safety; over decades they have sacked and blacklisted those prepared to stand up for the safety of their fellow workers. By keeping non-essential building sites open, the government and businesses are prioritizing profit above public health.
No construction worker wants to put their families lives at risk or add more burden to the NHS. The UK government should immediately close all non-essential building sites. But they also need to ensure that every single worker, whether an employee, self-employed or an agency worker, is paid straight away. We need to protect our families, but we also need to put food on the table.
Rather than forcing construction workers to choose whether to protect their families or pay their bills, the government should suspend all mortgage, rent, interest payments and penalty clauses for the next 3 months (as has already been done in Italy) and pay everyone a universal basic income (as has occurred in Hong Kong and is being proposed by the Spanish government)”.
The memorial protest comes at the same time as the government issued new advice that 2m social distancing will no longer need to be strictly applied in the construction industry, but instead recommends that workers are kept two metres apart “as much as possible”. This is in stark contrast to guidance from the Scottish Government, which has ordered the closure of all non-essential construction.
Construction workers have been voicing their opposition to keeping non-essential building sites open on social media and a number of videos from across the UK have been collated and now appear on the attached .
For press interviews contact: ShutTheSites@gmail.com
A full risk assessment was carried out before the protest which identified potential hazards and control measures were implemented to remove the risk
The protest with two construction workers could be deemed unlawful. The irony being that thousands of construction workers, often lacking PPE, packed onto building sites across the UK is being actively encouraged by the government.
Unite, the UK’s largest union, has accused the Ministry of Defence (MoD) of shamelessly hiding behind ‘commercial interests’ in refusing to provide information about the asbestos scandal involving the maintenance of its Sea King helicopter fleet.
It said it was highlighted the ‘absolute scandal’ of the MoD’s failure to inform workers that they could have been exposed to asbestos as part of its activities around International Workers’ Memorial Day (IWMD) on Sunday 28 April, as the theme for this year’s event is dangerous substances – get them out of the workplace.