International Workers’ Memorial Day 2021

Posted in Branch news

International Workers Memorial Day is commemorated throughout the world and is officially recognised by the UK Government.

More people are killed at work than in wars. Most don’t die of mystery ailments, or in tragic accidents. They die because an employer decided their safety just wasn’t that important a priority. International Workers’ Memorial Day (IWMD) enables us to both commemorate these lost workers and renew our efforts to organise collectively to prevent further deaths, injuries and disease.

Trade unionists across the world mark International Workers’ Memorial Day in many ways including: 

  • Organising online campaigns
  • Hosting video calls or webinars
  • Arranging memorial events 
  • Recognising the benefits of effective health and safety management
  • And by recruiting more Health & Safety Reps

This year, the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed an occupational health crisis in workplaces worldwide. Workers are routinely denied even basic health and safety protections, including consultation with safety reps and safety committees on ‘Covid-safe’ policies and practices, free access to personal protective equipment and protection from victimisation for raising health and safety concerns. These same problems existed before the pandemic and resulted in millions of deaths each year from work-related injuries and diseases.

The pandemic demonstrates why health and safety must be a right for everyone who works. Illness anywhere threatens illness everywhere. Unions secured agreement at the International Labour Conference in 2019 that occupational health and safety should be recognised as an International Labour Organisation (ILO) fundamental right at work.

On 28 April 2021, unions can send a message that health and safety protection at work must be recognised as a right for all. Whether it is Covid or occupational cancers, or workplace injuries and industrial diseases, every worker should have a right to a voice and a right to protection. No-one should have to die to make a living.

International Workers’ Memorial Day (IWMD) on 28 April every year is our day to remember the dead and fight for the living

Up to 50,000 people die each year in the UK from work-related ill health and accidents.  Although few UNISON members die in workplace incidents, many suffer injuries and work-related ill health which affects them and their families.

Health and safety in our workplaces also protects those in the wider community. Whether it is a hospital, school or care home, our elderly and vulnerable relatives, our children and our communities are also protected by measures intended to keep everyone safe from harm.

UNISON knows that the key to providing a good and safe service is well-trained employees who have the time and protective equipment to do their job properly and meaningful collaboration on all things health and safety, with the employer.

The events of the past 12 months make this day more poignant than ever. Our members and colleagues have been at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19. They have worried for their families, been infected themselves and tragically, some have paid the ultimate price for their dedication.

UNISON takes health and safety seriously and we have been recruiting more safety reps during the pandemic because we know they really make a difference. Workplaces with active trade union safety reps are twice as safe as those with none.

A couple of confirmed events:

Wednesday 28 April 2021, 09:40 to 12:05TUC Northern Workers’ Memorial Day Health and Safety Seminar (organised with Hartlepool Trades Council).

Join trade unionists from across the region to remember our lost workers and discuss how we continue to fight for the health and safety of working people. Follow this link to register a place:

Wednesday 28 April 2021, 14:00 to 15:00 TUC International Workers’ Memorial Day, Zoom Call.

Join the TUC for a Workers’ Memorial Day online meeting, where we will be hearing from trade unionists and activists fighting for the health and safety of working people and remembering those who lost their lives to work. Featuring: Sharan Burrows, General Secretary of the ITUC, Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the TUC, Louise Adamson, Families Against Corporate Killers (FACK), Apsana Begum, MP for Poplar and Limehouse. Register here: Webinar Registration – Zoom