date: 25 April 2012
embargo: For immediate release
This Saturday unions and safety campaigners around the world will be marking Workers' Memorial Day and remembering the two million men and women who die every year as a result of work-related accidents and diseases.
Workers' Memorial Day is held on 28 April every year, a day when all over the world workers and their representatives conduct events, demonstrations, vigils and a host of other activities.
In the UK over 20,000 people die prematurely every year as a result of injuries or accidents caused by their work. This weekend, in towns and cities across the country, people will gather to remember the many victims. As well as remembering the dead, the day also serves as a reminder that workplace-related deaths are not inevitable and can be prevented.
This year the TUC is calling on unions and safety campaigners to make 28 April a day of action to defend health and safety from attacks by the press, politicians and employers.
The TUC is concerned that the UK's workplace safety record could be about to get worse as a direct result of government policies. Not only do funding cuts - both to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and to local authorities - mean there will be fewer inspections, the government has also said that workplaces like shops, offices and schools no longer need to be routinely visited by safety inspectors.
On Saturday campaigners are being urged to remind the 'health and safety bashers' what safety law is really all about - not pointless regulation but necessary protection to stop employers taking risks with workplace safety and which prevents people from being killed, injured or made ill as a result of their work.
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: 'The government says we don't need any more regulation, that the UK is a safe place to work. If only this were the case. With the UK 20th in a list of 34 developed nations, we've hardly got a safety record to be proud of.
'Sensible employers who are happy to work closely with unions improving safety and occupational health at work don't see safety regulation as an intrusive burden. But rogue employers, who are happy to cut corners and take risks with their employees' safety, do.
'It's these reckless employers that we need to target and the government's rhetoric will only encourage yet more of them to think they can get away with unsafe workplaces - without fear of ever getting a visit from the HSE or their local council.'
So far Workers' Memorial Day events have been organised in over 70 towns and cities across the country from Aberdeen to Penzance. These include a rally in London's East End to commemorate the Watney Market sewer disaster in 1990 where three workers were killed by fumes, a march in the Prime Minister's Witney constituency to remember Altin Balla, a building worker who died in 2008, and a wreath laying in Newcastle to remember Joe Willis, a construction worker who was killed working on the city's Western Bypass in the late 1980s.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
- Britain is ranked 20th in the Health and Safety Risk Index of 34 OECD industrialised countries.
- A full list of events taking place this Saturday can be found at www.tuc.org.uk/workplace/tuc-20489-f0.cfm
- International Workers' Memorial Day is an international day of remembrance and action for workers killed, disabled, injured or made unwell by their work. This year marks the 20th year that it has been commemorated in the UK. Since 2010 it has been officially recognised by the British government. In addition to the activities of unions it is marked by safety campaigners, professional bodies, the Health and Safety Executive and local authorities.
- Follow the TUC on Twitter @TUCNews
- All TUC press releases can be found at www.tuc.org.uk
Liz Chinchen T: 020 7467 1248 M: 07778 158175 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
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