Today we held a simple but powerful remembrance ceremony to mark International Workers Memorial Day (IWMD 28 April). IWMD is supported by trade unions and responsible employers across the world to remember those who have died of accidents at work and from work related ill health. It is also a campaigning day to make all workplaces safer.
This was organised by the London UNISON Housing Association branch members but supported also by a local GMB branch and professional safety advisers from Clarion & L&Q Housing associations. These are the two largest "shops" in our branch. Wreaths from UNISON, Clarion and L&Q were laid.
We met at the beautiful "Clasping Hands" statue in the historic Three Mills Green park in Stratford, East London. UNISON National Officer, Andrew Dobbie explained that at this very site in 1901 three workers sacrificed their lives, one after the other, in a ventilation shaft, trying to rescue another worker who had collapsed at the bottom of the shaft from fatal gases. Even the basic health & safety measures of the time had not been followed. I mentioned that this was not just an historic issue, in nearby Watney Market, Stepney in 1990 three workers were killed in a sewer in similar circumstances.
Other speakers spoke that even now, 2 workers per week, on average do not return home from work and the risk to UK health and safety if the Government goes ahead with plans to rescind european safety legislation. Another speaker spoke about the very recent 10th anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse which killed (manslaughter?) over 1100 worker in Bangladesh.
Many thanks to the UNISON & GMB members (including a former London Assembly member and a former Council leader), national and regional officers, Councillors and the professional safety advisors for attending. I had apologies from many others and look forward to making this event even better next year.