Category Archives: 28 April / WMD

FACK Statement International Workers’ Memorial Day 28 April 2017

FACK families spend International Workers’ Memorial Day remembering our dead and further reinforcing our commitment to fight like hell for the living: you and your loved ones.

We do it because this year the TUC focus for the day is on good health and safety for all workers whoever they are.  Because, whoever they are, they are someone’s parent, spouse, sibling, child…they are someone’s loved one.

Until it touches your life, you can’t fully appreciate the impact it has.  Seeing a fiancé going from choosing wedding cars to sitting in a funeral cortege.  Having to visit a cemetery, once a month or more to lay flowers for a son and brother, who didn’t get the opportunity to become an uncle, a husband or a dad.  Knowing you’ll never answer the phone again to hear the words “how you doin’ sis?”  Having to send happy Easter, Christmas, anniversary, or birthday wishes “up there”.  Or wishing you’d been able to say goodbye that morning before they left.

You see, the HSE figure of 144 people killed at work last year is heartbreaking enough in itself: that so many should leave home, never to return.  And so is knowing that the last text you sent your husband read: “Hey sexy husband, hope your day’s got more exciting.  Love you.”  Mark was that sexy husband.  He was dead before he got the chance to read it, all down to lack of health and safety protections which he, his wife Tracey and their now 4-yr-old daughter should have expected to be a given.

It should also be a given that each and every work-related death is recognised, counted and therefore made to count!  We must remember all of the dead.  Because the HSE figure doesn’t include those who die at sea, or as a result of air incidents, or who die on our roads while working (or who are driving home dog tired after having to work excessively long hours of work), members of the public killed by work-related activities, or the huge numbers killed by occupational illnesses such as asbestos cancers.

It also doesn’t count those who die by suicide due to work.  Hazards estimates this at around 300 every year across the UK.  Almost one person every day driven to suicide because of work-related stress, fears over job security and low pay, work overload, bullying, or indeed as a result of injury or illness suffered at work, or the death of colleagues.

We daren’t begin to contemplate the horror of knowing your loved one, a police officer, took his own life after two of his colleagues were killed in the line of duty.  Having written out his own death tag, he hanged himself from a tree at a spot where he’d previously found a suicide victim.

Or the feeling of helplessness felt by the wife of the popular firefighter on hearing he had been found dead at his station having taken his own life.  She had reassured him “it was just a job and it didn’t matter”, that it was her “and the kids who were important”.  He was a man who “had never been the same” after the preventable death of a fellow firefighter two years previous and who a coroner was to find had had “pressure upon pressure piled upon him” at work.

Just as a young teacher had.  Her family state she was “worked to death” after a job promotion, only sleeping for 3 hours a night as her “mind was in overdrive”.  How would you ever being to come to terms with a loved one’s decision to jump to their death from a motorway bridge.

If we’re to effectively fight for the living, we must recognise work-related suicide – just as they do in Japan, Australia and France – and work to eliminate the causes.  We must resist the move to resilience as a means of tackling stress, and instead focus on removing or fixing the hazards, rather than fixating on fixing the worker.

A report in Hazards magazine states that: “when people feel they no longer have a voice in the workforce, they protest in other ways including, in the most extreme cases, by killing themselves.”

The most powerful voice is a collective one.  And we know that a union workplace is a far safer workplace!  Fewer injuries and occupational illnesses.  Less sickness absence.  And better reporting of health and safety problems, so they can be fixed before a worker suffers life-changing, life-limiting or life-ending consequences.

A union workplace is also a fairer, more equal one.

The international theme for today centres on inequality at work.  Because the work a person does often results from inequality and results in health inequality.  The lower your pay grade, the higher your health and safety risks, whether from overwork, exposure to substances which cause cancer, the inability to turn down overtime and shift work, or the worry about speaking up on health and safety for fear you lose your job and your family’s livelihood as a result.

As the “gig economy” and precarious work becomes increasingly prevalent, we see workers expected to survive on contracts that are temporary or casual in nature, with no guarantee as to hours, which are low paid, and which lack access to employment benefits and important legal protections.  These work arrangements negatively impact on the health and safety of individuals, whether in the form of increased incidence of workplace injury, work intensification and stress levels, or decreased collective organisation and trade union membership.  We must counter this and get political priorities properly focused, reiterating that we didn’t – and we won’t – vote to die at work!

We will continue the work of getting to a point where never again does a loved one leave home in a work’s van, only to return in one belonging to an undertaker.

So on this International Workers’ Memorial Day, we urge you to remember not only our dead, but all of the dead…and let’s ensure we fight like hell to ensure all others are able to keep on with the most important job of all, that of living life to the fullest each and every day.

FACK was established in July 2006, by and for families of people killed by the gross negligence of business employers, see www.fack.org.uk

Founder Members of FACK:

Dawn and Paul Adams son Samuel Adams aged 6 killed at Trafford Centre,10th October 1998

Linzi Herbertson – husband Andrew Herbertson 29, killed at work in January 1998

Mike and Lynne Hutin son Andrew Hutin 20, killed at work on 8th Nov 2001

Mick & Bet Murphyson Lewis Murphy 18, killed at work on 21st February 2004

Louise Taggart brother Michael Adamson 26, killed at work on 4th August 2005

Linda Whelanson Craig Whelan 23, (and Paul Wakefield) killed at work on 23rd May 2004

Dorothy & Douglas Wrightson Mark Wright 37, killed at work on 13th April 2005

For more information and to support  FACK, contact Hilda Palmer, Facilitator for FACK: Tel 0161 636 7557

Poster: Face it. Unfair workplaces are a real pain. Only unions can make things better.

Hazards Campaign has produced posters for International Workers’ Memorial Day. Order posters, forget-me-knot ribbons and other 28 April resources from the Hazards Campaign, tel: 0161 636 7557; email: info@hazardscampaign.org.uk

Poster: Fair enough? We are all sickened by inequality at work

Hazards Campaign has produced a dedicated poster for International Workers’ Memorial Day. Order posters, forget-me-knot ribbons and other 28 April resources from the Hazards Campaign, tel: 0161 636 7557; email: info@hazardscampaign.org.uk

Count down to Workers’ Memorial Day, 28 April 2017!

Are you ready for the biggest health and safety event on the calendar, anywhere? International Workers’ Memorial Day is set for Friday 28 April, highlighting how inequalities at work can be seriously bad for your health. Protests, marches, training days, workplace inspections and flash mobs are being planned. There’s a good chance there will be an event near to you – if not, there’s still time to organise one.

TUC Workers’ Memorial Day 2017 events listing. Find out what’s happening worldwide on International Workers’ Memorial Day.

Get your resources for IWMD17
Order posters, forget-me-knot ribbons and other 28 April resources from the Hazards Campaign, tel: 0161 636 7557; email: info@hazardscampaign.org.uk
Purple Forget me Knot ribbons:2017 WMD ribbon order form
Two Free #IWMD17 Posters
Face it. We are all sickened by inequality at work, editorial by ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow, April 2017.
Unsafe and unfair – discrimination on the job hurts us all, ITUC briefing for, 28 April 2017.

Workers’ Memorial Day – this year, it’s the law

Every year more people are killed at work than in wars. Most don’t die of mystery ailments, or in tragic “accidents”. They die because an employer decided their safety just wasn’t that important a priority. Workers’ Memorial Day (WMD) commemorates those workers. The 28 April annual event is marked all over the world, as workers and their representatives conduct events, demonstrations, vigils and a plethora of other activities to mark the day.

As preparations begin for this year’s event, the TUC has announced the global campaign focus. “In 2016 the theme for the day is ‘Strong Laws – Strong enforcement – Strong Unions’ because across the world we are seeing growing attacks on health and safety protection, including in Britain where the government have removed protection from millions of self-employed workers, and across Europe where the European Commission is pursuing a dangerous deregulatory strategy,” the union body said.

“However strong laws are not enough if they are not going to be enforced. That is why we need proper inspections and enforcement action against those who break the laws.”

The TUC said that in UK the number of inspections has fallen dramatically in the past five years, while in many other countries enforcement is non-existent. “That is why we also need strong unions. Unionised workplaces are safer, yet the government is trying to stop unions protecting the health and safety of their members by restricting the right of health and safety representatives to take time off to keep the workplace safer, and also trying to reduce our right to strike when things go wrong.”

TUC news alert. TUC 2016 Workers’ Memorial Day activities listing. Add your 28 April event to the TUC listing . For tweeters, use the #iwmd16

ITUC/Hazards global events listing.

For Hazards Campaign Workers’ Memorial Day resources including ribbons and car stickers, contact the Greater Manchester Hazards Centre by email or phone 0161 636 7557.

International Workers’ Memorial Day

The Hazards campaign brought Workers’ Memorial Day to the UK. The 28 April global event – which is now the biggest annual occupational health and safety activity in the world – sees unions, campaigners and safety activists undertake protests, workplace activities and safety organising drives on the theme “remember the dead, fight like hell for the living”.

For further details, links and events listings visit

wmdnew

International Workers’ Memorial Day posters

Click on the arrows to view over a decade’s worth of
Hazards Campaign commissioned Workers’ Memorial Day posters

Workers' Memorial Day posters

Cutting health and safety laws is hurting us all, so “Stop it: You’re Killing us!”

All across this country and the world millions of people will come together on 28 April to mark International Workers Memorial Day (IWMD) at tens of thousands of events (1)

What killed 140 people a day, 6 per hour last year in Great Britain?  War? Murder?

No, WORK!

Work kills more than war every year: 2.3 million worldwide.  As Jukka Takala of the ILO said
“If terrorism took such a toll, just imagine what would be said and done?”

In Great Britain, work killed 1,400 killed in work-related incidents and up to 50,000 due to work-related illnesses- cancer, heart and lung disease in 2011/12.  Work also made over 2 million ill, injured 111,000 – 22,000 very seriously – and led to 27 million days off work.  Compare this with about 600 murders per year and 641 GB service personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan in 11 years (2)

Workers, their families and their unions will say on IWMD that we need more health and safety protection at work not less, as avoidable deaths every day and disasters such as the recent massive explosion of a fertilizer factory in Texas show all too tragically. “Deregulation kills, we want action not reaction” said Hazards Campaign spokesperson, adding “Any idiot can ‘learn lessons’ after a disaster, after people have been killed and lives ruined, it takes intelligent foresight and a commitment to people’s lives, to prevent work from causing harm.”

You would never guess work caused such death and misery, if all you know is what the government says and how workers safety and health is reported – as one big joke!  Almost all cases of work related death, injury and ill health are preventable, if employers obeyed the law and government and enforcement agencies made them.  But they didn’t and people were killed and families’ lives ruined. Many families now know this, but didn’t know when they sent their sons and daughters, partners and parents to work, expecting them to be safe, but they never came home.  Lack of health and safety is no joke when it happens to you. (3)

Cameron Minshull, 16, from Bury, was killed in January 2013, only weeks after starting his engineering apprenticeship. He died only days after David Cameron told business leaders in Preston that silly health and safety rules must be scrapped to allow more children to get work experience.  In fact his government has already several times reduced the rules on health and safety protection for young apprentices like Cameron Minshull, who’s mum said “I thought he was safe at work on a government apprenticeship scheme” (4)

What is the UK government doing to stop this avoidable death toll? Well not strengthening health and safety law but deregulating it; not increasing preventative inspections but banning them in workplaces where the majority of recorded deaths occur; and slashing enforcement activity to shreds!

Since 2010 government has consistently rubbished health and safety, blamed it for ‘broken Britain’, the riots, and now for the lack of jobs and economic growth! The biggest lie they have perpetuated is that good safety and health is a burden on business. NO! The burden is on us, in heart ache and also on us in terms of economic cost. The poor management of safety and health that leads to 80 per cent of deaths, injuries and illness, costs the economy over £30 billion a year (2).  Of this amount, the individuals harmed pay the largest cost, 55 per cent, the public purse pays 24 per cent, and the employers who caused the problems pay around one fifth.   Hazards added: “On IWMD, we will all be telling this government: that we didn’t vote to die at Work, so stop deregulating and slashing enforcement, it’s killing us! Whether it is hazards in your workplace, horsemeat in your beefburger or Legionnaires’ in your neighbourhood, it is becoming evident that stringent regulation is not a burden, it is a necessity” (5)

For more information contact Hilda Palmer 0161 636 7557,   mobile:  079 298 00240

International Workers’ Memorial Day 28 April resources:

1. Hazards/ITUC global country listing of IWMD events TUC listing of GB eventsNW England Listing:

2. Work-Related Statistics for 2011/12

3. Families Against Corporate Killers (FACK)  Statement on death of Cameron Minshull

4. FACK statement on International Workers’ Memorial Day 2013

5. Hazards Magazine: The high cost of neutering watchdogs

 

The government must admit the true extent of workplace ill-health, accidents and death

It’s great news Workers Memorial Day will now be officially recognised by the government – now they must admit the true extent of workplace ill-health, accidents and death AND enforce the law as vigorously as they do parking offences to reduce the damage done !

The Hazards Campaign welcomes the decision of the government to formally recognise Workers Memorial Day. We also welcome the comments from Yvette Cooper, Work and Pensions Secretary of State, who said: “This is a tribute to all those who have campaigned long and hard, including bereaved families, trade unions, campaign groups, and many other organisations and individuals.”

But it is not enough for the government to commemorate the day without also recognising their role in underestimating the true extent of the damage work does in the UK, how their inaction perpetuates this myth and lets employers get away with murder. Parking offences in the UK are enforced by thousands more enforcement officers on the street and parking offences are enforced with far more vigour than workplace health and safety offences ever are – and this must change NOW.

Government, through their agency the Health and Safety Executive, give a very skewed and limited picture of the damage done by work every year. They say 180 people die in workplace incidents and 8,000 die from workplace cancers when the true figures are much higher and the overall picture much grimmer.

Hilda Palmer of the Hazards Campaign said: “A more realistic estimate, which includes work-related road-traffic deaths and suicides attributed to work-related stress, is 1500-1600 in so called accidents, per year. But even these figures are the tip of the iceberg; if we include the many thousands who die from illnesses caused by their working conditions the total could be as high as 50,000 a year! Government has long been criticised for under-estimating deaths from work- related cancers which even the most conservative estimate by global experts is about 18,000 each year.” (1).

The Hazards Campaign, alongside the Construction Safety Campaign and trade unions, started recognising Workers Memorial Day in the UK over twenty years ago with events around the country on every April 28th. These events were supported by many families whose loved ones were killed at or by work and this led to the formation of Families Against Corporate Killers who also support the day every year. Other campaigns, such as the Simon Jones Memorial Campaign, also supported and campaigned on WMD.

Contact:

Hilda Palmer – 0161 636 7557

(1) More detailed information about the true extent of workplace ill-health, accident and deaths in The Whole Story