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• TUC calls for Yorkshire MPs to support public inquiry saying “Workers and families need to know when they will get answers”
• National minute of silence to be held at midday to pay tribute to all working people who have died due to work in the past year
• Town halls light up purple, Archbishop delivers special message and events take place across region in support of bereaved families

Town halls across the region will today (Wednesday) light up purple to mark International Workers Memorial Day, as the TUC calls for Yorkshire MPs to support an immediate public inquiry into the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The TUC has asked Councils across Yorkshire to light up their civic buildings in purple to remember those who have died, and the Archbishop of York will deliver a special message dedicated to the workers who have died this year.

The union federation is also asking members of the public to observe a minute’s silence at midday.

The list of councils in Yorkshire who will be lighting up purple include: Hull (city centre civic buildings), Calderdale (Wainhouse Tower), Leeds (relevant civic buildings), York (York Mansion House, West Offices, City Walls), Bradford (relevant civic buildings), and Rotherham (relevant civic buildings).

Official figures show that almost 13,000 people in Yorkshire & the Humber have died as a result of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

Answers and accountability

The TUC says that there is broad acceptance across the political spectrum that there will be a public inquiry into the handling and mishandling of the pandemic response.

But the union body today calls on Yorkshire MPs to demand the prime minister announce a date by when the inquiry will start, and to launch a public consultation to shape what the inquiry will cover.

The TUC says that the voices of workers and the families of those who contracted the virus at work will be central to understanding what went wrong and learning lessons for the future.

The union body says that alongside scrutinising the quality of decision-making across the pandemic response in government, the public inquiry must specifically look at:

  • Infection control and workplace safety, including the failure to provide adequate financial support to self-isolate, PPE availability for health and care staff throughout the crisis, the effectiveness of test and trace, and the failure to enforce the law on workplace safety.  
  • The resilience and capacity of public services, including how prepared the NHS, social care, public health and local government were to deal with Covid-19, and the consequences of a decade of public spending cuts on pandemic preparedness across the public sector.
  • The unequal impact of Covid-19 on different groups of workers, specifically Black and Minority Ethnic workers and those on insecure jobs 
  • The effect of the government’s economic support packages to ensure workers stayed in employment and businesses did not go to the wall, and the impact of these decisions on unemployment and poverty rates 

Town halls lit purple, and the national minute’s silence for those who have died

Local councils in Hull, Calderdale, Leeds, York, Bradford and Rotherham have answered the TUC’s call to light their civic buildings purple as a special memorial this year to those who have died at work as a result of the pandemic.

Unions will also lead the national minute’s silence, held annually to remember those who have died at or because of unsafe workplaces, at the National Covid Memorial Wall in London at midday today.

The Most Reverend & Right Honourable Stephen Cottrell, Archbishop of York will deliver a special message to the families of workers who have died, via the TUC Yorkshire & Humber website and social channels at 11am.

TUC Regional Secretary Bill Adams will lay a wreath at Sheffield Town Hall as part of Sheffield Trades Council’s socially distant memorial. He will be joined by Lord Mayor Cllr. Tony Downing.

The TUC will also lay a wreath at the Workers’ Memorial on Victoria Square outside Leeds Library and Gallery.

Events to commemorate workers who have lost their lives over the past year will take place across the region.

TUC Regional Secretary Bill Adams said:

"We’ll forever be in the debt of the workers who died during this pandemic - nurses, carers, bus drivers and so many more.

“They lost their lives looking after our loved ones and keeping our country running in the hardest of times.

“We owe it to them, and to their families, to get on with the public inquiry. The prime minister must announce a date when it will start.

“Any public inquiry must look at why workers were put at risk – be it through inadequate PPE or being unable to afford to self-isolate.

“This isn’t about settling scores. It’s about getting answers and learning the lessons to save lives in future.

“On International Workers Memorial Day, we remember those who have died, and pledge ourselves to fight for safe workplaces for everyone.”

Jo Goodman, Co-Founder of Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice said: 

“Many of our loved ones lost their life after catching Covid-19 in their workplaces.

“From working in the factories that produced PPE for the NHS to the nurses and doctors who didn't have enough PPE at the start of the pandemic, they kept the country going and paid the ultimate price.

“An independent, judge-led statutory public inquiry is vital to making sure we learn lessons and save lives during the pandemic and for any future waves.

“The stories of our loved ones hold the answers to preventing more grief for other families.”


Editors note

- The national minute’s silence for those who have died is held annually to remember those who have died at or because of unsafe workplaces, at the National Covid Memorial Wall in London at midday today. 

- Details of the TUC’s International Worker’s Memorial Day activities through the region are available here. 

- The TUC has published a report calling on the government to introduce tough new measures to ensure that before lockdown restrictions are eased, all employers assess the risks of their staff team returning to work outside the home. A copy can be found here

- Every year on 28 April, trade unionists around the world unite to remember those who have died in the course of their work. This year, the TUC will commemorate the large numbers of workers who’ve lost their lives to coronavirus, while also remembering those who have died from other causes.

- The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together more than 5.5 million working people who make up our 48 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a living.


Gareth Forest (Lewis)
0113 200 1075
07810 374976

TUC national press office  
020 7467 1248 

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