TRADE unionists and campaigners united yesterday to mark International Workers’ Memorial Day. Families of people killed in work-related incidents and exposure to deadly materials such as asbestos joined memorial events in major towns and cities to “Remember the Dead. Fight for the Living.”
As reported in yesterday’s paper Tracey Seward, whose husband Mark was killed at engineering company AGD in 2015, said at the memorial event in Manchester: “I am angry, very angry that Mark could go to work for an employer and be killed because they took so little care of him.”
“That a man who is only doing his best, working for the good and love of his family, can be so badly treated and let down and then his employer can show no remorse or care.”
Health and safety campaign group Hazards said that although work fatalities in Britain have decreased according to figures from the government’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE), part of the fall was due to workers moving away from dangerous industries such as construction and agriculture.
“The HSE figures do not include occupational disease deaths — mainly lung and heart disease and cancers — or workers killed in road traffic incidents, workers killed at sea, and work-related suicides, which are on the rise,” the group added.
And in Bristol, where thousands of people rallied, Bristol TUC’s Alex Kempshall said: “In the hour it’s taken us to hold this march and rally, somewhere in the world 240 workers will have died from a work-related accident or disease, and over 34,000 have a work-related accident.”
He also pointed out that 440,000 people in Britain had reported work-related stress at a level that has made them ill.
Each new case of stress leads to an average of 31 days off work, costing the economy a total of £105 billion a year.
He concluded: “Capitalism kills and the bosses are the culprits. But there’s a cure — organised resistance in our workplaces and communities, and at the political level. Stronger trade unions and united political struggles are needed.