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March 22, 2011

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Marking Workers’ Memorial Day more important than ever, says TUC

The TUC is urging unions to use International Workers’ Memorial Day, held every year on 28 April, to draw attention to the threat to workers’ safety caused by Government cuts.
Officially recognised by the UK Government in 2010, Workers’ Memorial Day commemorates the thousands of individuals worldwide who have been killed, seriously injured or made ill at work.
A series of events, demonstrations and vigils will be held in the UK both to mourn those who have died and encourage unions to campaign against Government cuts in HSE and local-authority funding, and health and safety inspection and regulation. For example, USDAW, which represents workers in shops, offices and warehouses, will use 28 April to campaign against the erosion of safety enforcement in these sectors.  
The TUC is encouraging workers to ask their employers to recognise the day, perhaps by holding one minute’s silence, or flying flags at half-mast. It is also urging them to organise local health and safety meetings with relevant speakers, or events such as tree-planting or dedication of a work of art to commemorate a person who has been killed at work.
The HSE will be promoting the day via its website and internally to its own staff, as well as promoting links to organisations such as IOSH and RoSPA. An HSE spokesperson said: “HSE’s job is to prevent people being killed, injured or made ill by work. Last year, we unveiled a permanent memorial at our headquarters in Bootle to workers who had lost their lives through work activities. This year, HSE regional directors and inspectors will attend local commemorative events as usual to mark the occasion.”
The DWP has revealed that it will be promoting the event on the Government’s Directgov website. A DWP spokesperson said: “Following the UK’s official recognition of Workers’ Memorial Day in 2010, we will ensure that the day is appropriately publicised on the Government’s Directgov website. But official recognition is only one side of the story. The main responsibility for controlling work-related health and safety risks rests with those who create the risks. Workers’ Memorial Day is a stark reminder of why that responsibility is so important. The Government extends its deepest sympathies to all those for whom the day is especially poignant.”
For a full list of events, visit the TUC website.

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