Unite members from across Yorkshire gathered at ceremonies to mark International Workers Memorial Day (IWMD) on Saturday (April 28).
In Sheffield around 100 people gathered as a wreath was laid by a memorial tree outside the city hall to remember those who had lost their lives or been injured at work.
Speaking at the service, Martin Mayer, a Unite delegate on Labour’s executive council (pictured below) said similar acts of remembrance were “taking place in towns and cities all around the globe”.
“Each year, thousands of workers experience serious accidents at work causing injuries which can and often do lead to permanent disability. Worse still, far too many workers die – either immediately or in some cases years afterwards following long periods of pain and suffering,” Mayer said.
Mayer reminded the crowd that “it doesn’t have to be this way” and highlighted how properly trained reps can make workplaces much safer.
In fact, research shows that workplaces that have union safety reps and a safety committee have half the major injury rate of companies that don’t have these structures.
Safety reps are also good for the economy: in 2016 alone they saved the UK between £219m and £725m by reducing lost time caused by injuries and illness.
Mayer said, “We need safer workplaces; proper and effective health and safety legislation; and trained and qualified trade union health and safety representatives. Safe workplaces are invariably more productive ones – but today all too often employers are resisting trade union organisation and trying to prevent trade unions taking up vital issues like health and safety.”
Despite the sombre occasion, Mayer said the memorial contained a positive message.
Mayer said, “Today’s event also recognises the vital role that trade unions play in the workplace, ensuring workers have a safe and healthy working environment. We want workers to go to work confident that they will be safe – to come home again each day safely.”
Unite members, along with representatives from other trade unions and the Labour party, also attended Yorkshire services in Leeds, Halifax, Bradford, Barnsley, Doncaster, Grimsby, Immingham and Rotherham.
Pics by: Mark Harvey