28 April marks International Workers Memorial Day. Across the world, workers and their representatives are conducting events, demonstrations, vigils and a whole host of other activities to mark the day. I marked this important occasion by attending The Joint Trade Union’s annual International Workers Memorial Day Event in Bristol.
Every year, more people die at work than in wars. Many of these deaths happen simply because employers failed to prioritise their workers’ safety.
According to the International Labour Organisation across the world every year:
- One worker dies every 15 seconds worldwide
- 6,000 workers die every day
- More than two million men and women die as a result of work-related accidents and diseases
- Workers suffer approximately 270 million accidents each year, and fall victim to some 160 million incidents of work-related illnesses
- Hazardous substances kill 440,000 workers annually – asbestos claims 100,000 lives
The day serves as a rallying cry to “remember the dead: fight for the living”. These losses affect not only the people directly affected, but also their families and friends. It’s so important that Workers Memorial Day considers those left behind.
The day also serves as an important reminder to employers of their responsibility to promote the wellbeing of their workforce. Not just as workers, but as human beings who are valued in and of themselves. I will continue to do all I can to promote that message across Bristol, and am working closely with Trade Unions to make Bristol a safe and fair place to work, which supports its workers to thrive.
In January, I signed the TUC’s Dying to Work Charter on behalf of Bristol City Council. This is a national initiative designed to increase awareness of terminal illness in the workplace and encourage employers to provide increased help and support to any employee facing such challenging circumstances. I was pleased to be able to demonstrate our commitment as a caring employer to supporting staff that face this difficult time. I support the campaign to promote awareness of this issue and urge other employers in Bristol to do the same. We have also signed the UNITE Construction Charter, which makes sure construction workers on our sites and our contractors are better protected from injury. As well as the workers themselves, health and safety in our workplaces protects those in the wider community, and the people that use our services.
Quality employment standards go beyond health and safety measures, which is why I have written to employers in Bristol to encourage them to follow our lead and become accredited Living Wage employers. I will continue to pursue my goal of Bristol as a Living Wage City. Being safe and fairly treated at work is a right, not a privilege. As we remember the dead, we will continue to fight for improved working conditions for now and the future. And did you know on average trade union members earn 18% more than non-union workers? If you haven’t already, join a Union today.