Tory moves to erode health and safety need to be resis...

Tory moves to erode health and safety need to be resisted, says Unite

27 April 2016

Attempts by Tory ministers and unscrupulous bosses to dilute or circumvent health and safety legislation across the UK must be resisted when at least two people a week are killed in the workplace.

This is the core message at the heart of this year’s International Workers’ Memorial Day (IWMD) when shadow chancellor John McDonnell will join the leader of Unite, the country’s biggest union, Len McCluskey for a rally near the Tower of London tomorrow (Thursday 28 April).

The Workers’ Memorial Day rally will be held at the Building Worker Statue, near Tower Hill tube station, at 10.30.

The annual event will be taking place against a background that, according to Health and Safety Executive (HSE) UK statistics, saw 142 workers killed at work in 2014/15 – the last year that full figures are available.

During that year 1.2 million working people suffered from a work-related illness; 76,000 injuries to employees were reported under Riddor (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations);  and 611,000 injuries occurred at work according to the Labour Force Survey.

A total of 27.3 million working days were lost due to work-related illness and workplace injury, costing an estimated £14.3 billion due to injuries and ill health from working conditions in 2013/14.

The Tories have taken the axe to health and safety by cutting the budget as part of the civil service cuts; removing the approved code of practice and construction (design and management) regulations; deregulation; and removing much of ill health at work reporting from Riddor.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey will say: “Tory ministers driven by ideology, coupled with unscrupulous bosses trying to circumvent the regulations, are putting the lives of workers at risk.

“At least two workers a week are dying in the workplace across the UK - this is simply not acceptable in 2016.
“It is a fact that unionised workplaces are safer, yet the government is hell-bent on trying to block unions from protecting the health and safety of our members.

“Health and safety issues are very costly in terms of days lost each year and the billions of pounds that injuries and ill-health cost the UK annually.

“An excellent health and safety regime makes sense to the overall health of the British economy and its 31 million-strong workforce.

“Unite recognises that there are employers who neglect the safety of their workforces, so we assiduously campaign for stronger laws and enforcement action to fight these abuses across the UK. 

“If the government continues to battle with unions protecting their members in the workplace, by limiting the training provided to health and safety representatives and reducing the right to strike, we will see more deaths in the workplace.

“International Workers’ Memorial Day is about recognising the loss of those who don’t make it home at the end of their working day.  It’s a hard fact to swallow that more people are killed in work than in wars.”

Joining Len McCluskey and John McDonnell at Tower Hill will be: TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady; Ucatt acting general secretary Brian Rye; and BWI general secretary Ambet Yuson.


Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Email: 

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.