Unite members across the country will tomorrow (April 28) observe International Workers’ Memorial Day (IWMD), in honour of the many millions across the globe who are killed at work.
The union, which will host dozens of events across the UK, will mark the day as a rallying cry for greater health and safety protections in the workplace.
It will highlight the role of health and safety reps, whose work is absolutely vital – statistics show that in workplaces with these union officers in place, half as many major injuries occur as in workplaces without them.
Not only are these reps good for worker health and safety, but they’re good for business too — recent research has found that health and safety reps in the UK saved between £219m to £725m in a year by reducing time lost to injuries and illness.
At a time when the Health and Safety Executive – the public body which oversees workplace health and safety — has undergone massive funding cuts, the work of safety reps and their unions has never been more important.
Beyond the day-in, day-out work of individual health and safety reps, Unite has many campaigns devoted to health and safety at work. Its asbestos and diesel engine exhaust campaigns are two that are aiming to tackle occupational disease.
Whether a worker is instantly killed in an accident or dies slowly from exposure to chemicals at work, Unite believes even one death is one death too many. In a world where more people are killed at work than die in war, the task before us is a daunting one, and it starts with stronger unions.
Unite urges everyone to join us at one of our many IWMD events to stand united under the banner of the day’s motto – “Remember the dead; fight for the living.”