28th April 2021 – International Workers’ Memorial Day – there are ‘tragically more deaths every year from preventable accidents at work than in wars’

Aratrust commemorates all workers who have died because of poor working conditions

On this year’s International Workers’ Memorial Day (IWMD), the Anti-Racist Alliance Trust (Aratrust) commemorates all workers who have died at work, and supports the struggle to end deaths due to a lack of adequate health and safety measures, particularly workers of minority-ethnic heritage who have been disproportionately impacted during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Health and Safety is a fundamental workers’ right

This year the TUC (Trades Union Congress) has set the theme for IWMD as “Health and Safety is a fundamental workers’ right” and highlights that inadequate health and safety has always been a problem resulting in millions of deaths world-wide each year, even before the COVID-19 pandemic. (1)  

Workers Memorial Wall

28th April  –  a one-minute silence at 12.00 (midday)

Along with trade union activists throughout the country, Aratrust will be observing the TUC’s one-minute’s silence at 12:00 (midday) to respect and remember all those who have died in the workplace.

28th April  –  join the TUC Workers’ Memorial Day online meeting at 2.00-3.00 pm

Hear from trade unionists around the world and MPs campaigning to improve the health and safety of working people and remembering those who lost their lives at work. https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_uEKzShAsR3SIcNowyzTwEQ

28th April  –  commemorative events around the country

Commemorative IWMD events are taking place in Birmingham, Chelmsford, Darwen, Dudley, Halifax, Hartlepool, Leeds, Manchester, St Helens, Sunderland and …… https://www.tuc.org.uk/iwmd-events

28th April  –  Send your tribute for the Workers Memorial Wall

Workers Memorial Wall

April 28th marks International Workers’ Memorial Day (#IWMD). Around the world, the union movement unites to remember workers who lost their lives because of their job. This is a space where we remember those who have lost their lives at work, or from work-related injury or illness. It gives us an opportunity to reflect, mourn, share memories of colleagues and loved ones and give dignity to those who have lost their lives.

Trade unions will continue to fight for a future where no worker must risk their health or life while doing their job. We remember those we have lost and organise for safer, healthier work in their memory.

Honour those we have lost and pay respects by submitting a tribute.

https://www.tuc.org.uk/workers-memorial-wall

IWMD Tribute from UNITE Community Brent branch

 

“International Workers’ Memorial Day is an important occasion to make sure we collectively commemorate those who have died in the workplace, and so we can recognise that changes need to be made to ensure that workplaces are not dangerous places for workers.

Unite Community Brent branch stands with Aratrust and the TUC for their commemorations and minute’s silence this IWMD.”

IWMD Tribute from Harrow TUC

“More than 2.78 million workers die world-wide every year from occupational accidents or work-related diseases. Health and Safety is a fundamental workers’ right. Harrow TUC remembers those we have lost. We organise in their memory.”

IWMD Tribute from Ealing TUC

“Solidarity Greetings to Aratrust from Ealing Trades Union Council on International Workers’ Memorial Day. We especially salute all those front line workers who carried on through the pandemic – even as others above them hid away. Many died in the line of duty, others were sick and hospitalised. Let’s continue to fight for justice for everyone.”

NHS workers deaths

The disproportionate adverse impacts of COVID-19 along with long-standing health and economic inequalities on workers from minority-ethnic communities must be addressed with the utmost urgency before another surge or pandemic occurs.

A December 2020 report from the Journal of Global Health reveals that of the 1.2 million staff employed by the NHS, 20.7% identify as being of a minority-ethnic origin. However, as of September 2020, 64% of NHS workers who died due to COVID 19 were of minority-ethnic heritage. (2)

Aratrust extends its deepest condolences to the families of all workers who have passed away due to COVID-19, and we extend our full solidarity and support to minority-ethnic workers facing institutionalised racism in the health sector and elsewhere.

Deaths in the workplace have always been an issue  –  a long time before COVID-19. This year for IWMD the TUC has released a statement that revealed every year more people are killed at work than in wars! (3).

That is why it is so important to dedicate the 28th April as a day to memorialise those who have died at work and highlight the issue of dangerous conditions in the work place.

Bus drivers deaths

Issues this IWMD include the high number of deaths of bus workers in general, and in particular the disproportionate deaths of bus workers from minority-ethnic backgrounds, due to contact with COVID-19 at work. By 15th March 2021, 65 bus workers had died in London alone during the pandemic. Between March and May 2020 the mortality of male bus drivers was 3.5 times higher than that of men the same age in other occupations. (4)

UCL Institute of Health Equity’s report on bus driver deaths

A statement (19th March 2021) by the Institute of Health Equity at University College London, highlighted that the high number of bus worker deaths in London was partly related to the “higher than average proportion of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic drivers having a higher COVID-19 infection and mortality rates”. http://www.instituteofhealthequity.org/file-manager/resources/ucl-institute-of-health-equity-press-release-19-march-2021-bus-drivers-covid.pdf

The issue of COVID-19 disproportionately affecting front-line workers of minority-ethnic origin is one that extends further than health and transport workers, to workers of minority-ethnic origin in other occupations, as has been consistently and widely reported.

Health and safety is essential for all workers

Health and safety is essential for all workers and Aratrust believes that Health & Safety legislation, as inadequate as it is, needs to be much more strictly enforced by a much better resourced HSE (Health & Safety Executive). With the COVID pandemic we have seen workers in front-line positions face a threat unlike anything before, and making sure front-line workers are receiving adequate protection at work is still an issue over a year on from the start of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Aratrust supports all workers, trade unions, journalists and others who struggle tirelessly for safety in the workplace and especially in regard to the current pandemic where we are seeing that many workplaces still do not offer adequate COVID safety measures and effective Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Health and safety must be a right for everyone throughout the world  –  no-one should have to die to make a living

“The pandemic demonstrates why health and safety must be a right for everyone who works. Illness anywhere threatens illness everywhere. Unions secured agreement at the International Labour Conference in 2019 that occupational health and safety should be recognised as an International Labour Organisation (ILO) fundamental right at work – the decent, universally accepted and binding rights protecting all workers, everywhere. The ILO Centenary Declaration accepts “safe and healthy working conditions are fundamental to decent work”.

On 28 April 2021, unions can send a message that health and safety protection at work must be recognised as a right for all. Whether it is Covid or occupational cancers, or workplace injuries and industrial diseases, every worker should have a right to a voice and a right to protection. No-one should have to die to make a living.”

https://www.ilo.org/global/topics/safety-and-health-at-work/lang–en/index.htm

Coronavirus (COVID-19): working safely

“Everyone has the right to a safe workplace. No-one should be injured or made ill because of their work and employers and government should aim to ensure that work is a positive experience that keeps us healthy.”

(The TUC)

Trade unions can represent workers in the workplace, appoint Health & Safety representatives and provide legal back up. The TUC has information, advice and helpful resources and information about training for workplace Health & Safety representatives and a ‘safe return to work’. https://www.tuc.org.uk/CoronavirusRepsGuide

Support for the bereaved

Trade unions have been crucial in securing bereavement and compassionate leave in workplaces. As we come together to remember those who have lost their lives, as union activists we can also reach out to support those experiencing grief. https://www.tuc.org.uk/how-you-can-take-part

Join a trade union to improve working conditions

https://www.tuc.org.uk/why-join-union

Sources

  1. https://www.ilo.org/global/topics/safety-and-health-at-work/lang–en/index.htm
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7563090/
  3. https://www.tuc.org.uk/wmd
  4. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-56404444