Workers' Memorial Day 28 April 2014
Remember the dead, fight for the living
What is Workers Memorial Day?
International Workers Memorial Day (IWMD) takes place
all over the world on 28 April each year. The purpose of
IWMD is two-fold. Firstly it is about not forgetting those
who have died, been injured, or made ill by their work.
Secondly it is about ensuring that tragic loss and suffering
are used to reinvigorate the campaign for healthier and
safer work. The campaign slogan is Remember the dead,
Fight for the living.
This year’s theme is “WE LOVE RED TAPE, Better
Than Bloody Bandages!”
UNISON believes there needs to be a cultural change in
the way deaths, injuries & ill health caused by work
are seen by employers, the public and the Government. When
they are seen as completely unacceptable (in the same way
as drink driving for example) then employers will take health
& safety more seriously, fewer workers will be put at
risk and fewer families will suffer the emotional and financial
impact that usually follows. The Health & Safety Executive
(HSE) has stated that 70% of workplace incidents are due
to poor management systems. According to the HSE statistics
for 2011/12 this means that 173 deaths and 223,000 reportable
injuries at work could have been avoided if proper health
& safety management systems were in place.
No one should be put at unnecessary risk at work. UNISON
believes that work related deaths ill-health, and "accidents"
are not acceptable. Your employer has a responsibility to
ensure that your work does not cause you harm. Not only
is it the right thing to do - it's the law!
The demand for safe and healthy work is all the more important
as employers continue to implement spending cuts, and the
true cost of these become clearer over time.
Staff who remain in post are being expected to do more work
increasing the risk of various hazards including: workplace
bullying, lone working, manual handling, repetitive strain
injuries (RSI), and stress. Other work is not being done,
which at first may not be missed, but will lead to greater
risks including: worse and increasingly dangerous or unhealthy
workplaces, including increased exposure risks to asbestos
as building maintenance is neglected.
And at a time when health and safety is set to get worse,
the spending cuts are also reducing the ability of the enforcement
authorities to inspect and enforce on health and safety.
The Health and Safety Executives (HSE's) budget has been
cut, as has the money from central to local government (who
employ environmental health officers, many of whom are UNISON
EVERY YEAR: Around 250 workers are killed as a direct result
of injuries they sustain at work
EVERY YEAR: 1,000 people are killed on the roads while
driving or being driven as part of their work
EVERY YEAR: Over 20,000 people die every year in the UK
as a result of their work
Over 2 million working age people in the UK are living
with an injury or illness caused or made worse by their
jobs – this figure is equivalent to the combined populations
of Edinburgh, Liverpool, Cardiff, Newcastle, Portsmouth
In the Health & Safety Risk Index of OECD industrialised
countries, the UK is currently ranked 20th out of 34
The number of HSE inspections of UK workplaces has fallen
by 50% the last 10 years
35% - The amount being cut from the Health & Safety
Executive’s budget over 3 years
EACH OF THESE DEATHS IS A TRAGEDY
EACH OF THESE DEATHS IS AVOIDABLE
HOW TO TAKE PART?
The STUC are organising a Remembrance ceremony during April
2014 (day & time still to be confirmed) at the Peoples
Palace in Glasgow Green. Other events will be held throughout
Scotland and details will be posted here when we have them.
You could carry out workplace inspections during the week
to raise awareness of proper health & safety standards
in your workplace.
Please find enclosed materials for circulation and ensure
members are made aware of this important issue in your workplace.
If you are on Social media, then please ‘like’
the Facebook page “WE LOVE RED TAPE” & follow
Chair, UNISON Scotland Health and Safety Committee.
Previous WMD events
Events in Scotland on 28 April 2011 (please notify
us of others)
- Edinburgh: There will be a ceremony organised
by Edinburgh trades council at the Memorial Tree in West
Princes Street Gardens between 12 noon at 1 pm. There
will be come short speeches and contributions and wreaths
will be laid at the Memorial Tree. This year there will
be an anti cuts theme. Click
here for report and photos from this year's event.
- Aberdeen: 10am in the Walled Garden, Bucksburn,
here for report and photos from this year's event.
- Greenock: A Service and Wreath Laying Ceremony
will take place in Clyde Sq at 11am. Procession leaving
from the Grand Corridor in Inverclyde Council Municipal
Buildings. All welcome.
- Midlothian: A simple ceremony will take place
at the memorial flowerbed in George V Park Bonnyrigg commencing
- Glasgow: There will be a rally in Glasgow at
the Robert Burns statue in George Square. It will commence
- Fife: Company flags will be lowered, a minute's
silence will be observed and an explanatory Safety Bulletin
will be issued for WMD at the Babcock plant at Rosyth
Bonnyrigg: Midlothian Trade Union Council
Memorial to 'working class hero' Michael McGahey unveiled
UNISON General Secretary Rodney Bickerstaffe unveiled a
statue to mark the 10th Anniversary of Mick McGahey's address
to the Midlothian TUC Worker's Memorial Day event. The Annual
Memorial Day Commemoration was held at George V Park, Bonnyrigg
followed by the unveiling.
UNISON made a substantial donation to the memorial and,
among others, was represented by Mick McGahey jnr, Matt
Smith (UNISON Scottish Secretary), Agnes Petkevicius, Tom
Waterson, John Stevenson and Lui Giacomello. Edinburgh,
Midlothian and Lothian Health UNISON Branches laid wreaths
at the Workers Memorial Day garden.
Rodney described Michael McGahey as a 'working class hero'.
As someone who never lost touch with his roots and socialist
values. Also someone who was ardent about health and safety.
This was not just about safety at work, but also about building
'economic health and safety'. He listed some of McGahey's
sayings which were just as relevant today. "We are
a movement not a monument", he quoted as a reminder
of the need to continue to move and to fight on.
"We know the reasons why Michael never became NUM
President, but whether he had stayed as a steward or a delegate
he would still have had a major impact on the movement",
Tributes also came from Eric Clarke, ex NUM Scotland
General Secretary. He stressed the importance of Michael's
work in promoting a personal survival kit for miners that
allowed them time to escape through gas. He also underlined
the man's humour and pored scorn on those who may have described
him as 'dour'.
David Hamilton MP and ex NUM delegate praised the
discipline and purpose Michael brought to representing members.
He recalled at one STUC Congress that McGahey had told the
miners' delegates that it was 'an honour and privilege to
be representing the members' and that they were there 'on
the blood and the sweat' of their members.