Black balloons will soar as events mark workers’ deaths in Britain today. More than 60 International Workers’ Memorial Day events across Britain will declare “remember the dead — fight for the living” as trade unions and campaigners remember those who have died as a result of simply doing their jobs.
In Tower Hill, London, a wreath will be laid at the Building Workers bronze memorial statue, which commemorates the lives of workers killed on building sites.
Black balloons will be released, one for every construction worker killed at work in the last year, during a minute’s silence.
Ucatt Northern regional secretary Denis Doody said: “As well as campaigning about site deaths we need to also target the invisible killer — occupational disease. Thousands of construction workers die prematurely every year because employers needlessly expose them to dangerous substances.”
Just yesterday a Trades Union Congress survey of 500 workers revealed that almost three-quarters of workers felt they were at risk from hazardous materials including asbestos, chemicals and gas.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said yesterday that hundreds of thousands of people suffer work-related ill-health, sometimes fatally, caused by hazardous substances, “yet every single one of these cases could be prevented."
“Many of these substances could be removed from the workplace or their use reduced, but where this is not possible, workers need much better protection. That means stronger regulation, and, more importantly, proper enforcement.”
She said workplace union activists will be examining ways to stop unnecessary deaths, injuries and illness today.
“We need employers and governments to do more too,” she said.The TUC call will be taken up across Britain at today’s memorial events.
Sadly this call for action comes against a background of merciless ConDem cuts to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
HSE which says two million people in Britain are suffering work-related illnesses, has lost 35 per cent of its budget and dozens of key workplace inspectors have been sacked. The cuts have been coupled with relentless attacks on health and safety regulations under the cover of “reducing red tape.”