Attempts by Tory ministers and unscrupulous bosses to dilute or circumvent health and safety legislation along the south coast must be resisted.
This is the core message that will be the theme of this year’s International Workers Memorial Day events in Portsmouth and Southampton on Thursday 28 April.
Unite, the country’s largest union, is appealing for workers, activists and the public to turn up to show solidarity.
In Portsmouth, the event is being organised by the city’s trades council. There will be a commemoration in Victoria Park, PO1 2BG. (Edinburgh Road, opposite the Catholic cathedral). Assemble at 11.45 for a minute’s silence at noon.
In Southampton, the event will be held in the East Park, Brunswick Place (Jurys Inn Hotel side of A3024) Southampton SO14 0TB. Assemble in the park at 12.30.
These annual events 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 across the country – 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 regional secretary for the south east Jennie Formby said: “Tory ministers driven by ideology, coupled with unscrupulous bosses trying to circumvent the regulations, are putting the lives of workers at risk.
“This is not acceptable in 2016 in the great cities of Portsmouth and Southampton.
“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.
“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 along the south coast from Dover to the Solent.
“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.”
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940.
Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Web: unitetheunion.org
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.