International Workers Memorial Day takes place every 28th April, commemorating those killed and injured by work. This year all the usual hazards have been added to by Covid19, so IWMD in 2020 will be a perfect opportunity to raise relevant current issues and get the word out as widely as possible. Please do as much as you can for you and your workmates to mark the day in such a way that people really know what’s going on and what can be done about it.
Please see a wonderful song from Donald McCombie, our very own Unison Learning Fund Officer:
In the year of Corona virus, this day of commemoration has never been more important. And that is why UNISON is asking the country to observe a minute’s silence, to remember all the health, care and other key workers who have already lost their lives to COVID-19.
UNISON General Secretary, Dave Prentis said it would be “the ultimate tribute to remember workers who’ve lost their lives and put themselves in harm’s way to keep us safe and vital services running… Every year, the sacrifice of workers around the world is recognised, but this year has a special significance because of the pandemic.
“Thousands of key staff are on the front line while the rest of us are in lock-down. That’s why we’ve issued this call for the whole country to take part and remember the sacrifices they’ve made. The best tribute we can all pay them is to stay inside to protect the NHS.”
Thousands of workers across the UK are caring for those suffering from COVID-19 or delivering public services that are vital for us all – potentially putting their own safety and even their own lives at risk.
In many cases, these workers know that, by simply doing their jobs, they are putting themselves at risk.
The sacrifice of those working in the health and social care sectors has already been acknowledged, but there are also others – those working in childcare, police services and refuse collection, in hostels and rescue centre’s, in gas, water and electricity, and in transport services among them – whose work and dedication often goes unacknowledged.
Tragically, some of these workers have already died. In some cases, more could have been done to protect them, whether by better enforcement of social distancing, looking after workers with underlying health conditions or provision of adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep them safe.
While improvements have been seen in some areas, more needs to be done – specifically in relation to assessing the risks our members are facing and ensuring that all staff who require it are getting the protective equipment needed to do the job safely.
UNISON has never been afraid to demand the highest standards for workers; we have not been afraid to speak out and hold the government to account on providing the right PPE when staff need it, and to hold employers to account who are not doing enough to keep their workers safe.
Downloadable resources, which will be added to over time on the Hazards Campaign website will be made available. Hazards Campaign issued a statement Deadly Failures:
In which mainly government failures are blamed for the totally inadequate situation we have in the Corona virus crisis, and in which they make a number of demands.
It is backed up by an academic review from Prof Andy Watterson: COVID 19 in the UK and occupational health and safety – predictable but not inevitable failures: what can we do now?
They also sent a letter to HSE (below)
urging them to enforce safety on bad bosses, resulting, along with pressure from unions, in a joint statement from HSE, TUC and CBI, but more pressure is needed to get them to do more.
Letter sent to MPs, good response from Rachel Maskell, Shadow DWP Minister for workers H&S who was then replaced by Andy McDonald, who has also been in touch. This also got some press coverage.
See more on the Hazards Campaign website.
See also @hazardscampaign (twitter) and Facebook accounts: We didn’t vote to die at work.
Hazards magazine is an excellent source of information, on this and other health and safety issues.
Cue for plea to subscribe to Hazards Mag, donate and encourage others to do so: http://www.hazards.org/subscribe/index.htm
Please ensure you are following and retweeting key Twitter Accounts
Keep checking for weekly updates and follow and retweet, new graphics, films etc share posts on @hazardscampaign & #IWMD20 on Twitter and Facebook: We didn’t vote to die at work & Hazards Campaign website.
Other things Unison recommend that you can do include: Tweeting us at @unisontheunion, your pictures of public service workers, whether of yourself, your colleagues or even those you may not personally know, continuing to do the jobs that are keeping us all safe – If you are having a problem getting the PPE you need to keep you safe, let us know here; Email any other COVID-19 safety related issues to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Best wishes and stay safe everyone.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any Health and Safety concerns in your workplace.
Health & Safety Officer
Unison Birmingham Branch
Mobile: 07584707244 Email: email@example.com