29 March 2022
Our Ref: N4/22
To: All Branches
Workers’ Memorial Day – 28th April 2022 – Theme “Make Safe And Healthy Work A Fundamental Right”
The purpose behind Workers’ Memorial Day has always been to “remember the dead: fight for the living” and Unions are asked by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), European Trade Union Confederation, TUC, STUC, WTUC, ICTU, the Hazards Campaign, FACK (Families Against Corporate Killers) to focus on both areas, by considering events or memorials to remember all those killed and injured through work but at the same time ensuring that such tragedies are not repeated.
International Workers’ Memorial Day remembers those who have been killed, injured or who have contracted an industrial disease at or because of work but at the same time ensuring that we continue to do all we can to make sure such tragedies are not repeated.
The message is that the best way of protecting workers is by building trade union organisation, recruiting members, pressing employers to invoke better health and safety standards and risk controls and campaigning for stricter enforcement by the HSE and Local Authorities with higher court penalties for those employers and bosses breaching health and safety laws.
Workers’ Memorial Day is commemorated throughout the world. International Workers’ Memorial Day is held on 28 April each year to remember workers who have died, been injured or made ill due to hazards at work. It was formally recognised by the Labour Government led by Gordon Brown in 2010 following a consultation in 2009.
The Conservative Government led by Theresa May confirmed continued recognition of Workers’ Memorial Day in October 2017.
In 2022 the theme for the day is “Make Safe And Healthy Work A Fundamental Right”.
The CWU Health, Safety & Environment Department has promoted Workers’ Memorial Day amongst our Health and Safety Representatives, Branches and Regions via regular reports and LTBs.
Post ‘Brexit’ Health and Safety Deregulation Threat
The UK saw major change in the 70’s with the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the formation of the HSE, followed by the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977, followed by a plethora of European Health and Safety Directives transposed into UK Health and Safety Regulations through the 80’s and 90’s.
But what’s going to happen after Brexit? Which UK health and safety legislation will be affected and how? And when? Brexit presents the Tory right-wing opportunists with a new rationale for undermining health and safety law and enforcement through de-regulation, a drift towards an extreme form of self-regulation, further HSE budget cuts, enforcement and inspection cuts and post-Brexit now raises an imminent threat of the UK entering a ‘race to the bottom’.
Both Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Michael Gove Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government have called for the removal of the Health and Safety Regulations and Jacob Rees-Mogg Minister for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency of the United Kingdom has said that the UK could slash safety standards “a very long way” after Brexit! The 2021 EU/UK Trade and Co-operation Agreement may enable the UK to evade its formal health and safety responsibilities under the treaty because of the lack of the prospect of significant retaliatory ‘rebalancing’ measures.
Should minimal health and safety requirements cease to apply in the post-EU era, then the UK Government will be free to pursue a system of self-regulation that will allow health and safety standards to fall even further behind those of other developed economies.
Add this to the UK’s appalling record in observing ILO workplace health and safety instruments – in total, the UK Government has ratified only 6 of a total of 35 ILO ‘up-to-date’ health and safety protocols and conventions. There are a total of 74 countries that have ratified more ILO health and safety conventions than the UK.
This is scarcely what should be expected of a supposedly world leading economy currently engaged in negotiating trade deals with the world beyond the EU 27. It does not appear anything is going to change on this front and the Trade Unions may have some major battles ahead in defending and protecting health and safety!
A CWU Workers’ Memorial Day poster has been produced and 100 A3 size colour posters will be distributed to all 10 Regional CWU Health and Safety Sub Committees for onward distribution and these can be put up in workplaces to promote the day. Branches and Regions can order further copies from the Health, Safety and Environment department if required or alternatively print them off locally. Attached to this LTB is a pdf of the poster.
This year as we return to Conference after a two-year gap due to the Pandemic, we will remember those members who became victims of the Covid pandemic with each and every one of them in our thoughts and minds on the day.
As Branches, Health and Safety Reps and Regional Health and Safety Committees will know, the Union has, on five previous occasions, commemorated Workers’ Memorial Day (WMD) at Annual Conference as WMD fell during Conference Week after the move of Conference to the end of April. This will occur again this year.
This year WMD occurs on the Thursday of the Conference week, during the Industry Conferences and arrangements have been made with the General Secretary, Deputy General Secretaries and SOCs to commemorate WMD at Conference by observing a minute’s silence on the day, distributing WMD purple ribbons, WMD purple pens plus CWU WMD posters.
What Safety Reps and Branches and Regions Can Do:
Those Branch Reps and Officers not attending CWU Conference will be able to participate and support WMD events around the UK and will need to note this and make local arrangements to attend the many events taking place across the UK.
Once again the CWU will continue its support of this important commemorative day in the calendar and would urge CWU Branches, Reps and Regions to give their support to local and regional WMD events as above.
Find out what is happening in your area on 28 April. The website below will list all the local activities the TUC knows about, but you can also check with the Union Branch, local trades council, local council and other Union contacts in the area;
If nothing is happening locally then consider organising a local event. It can be a commemorative rally, a workplace meeting or just a small get-together;
Organise a minute’s silence in the workplace on the day;
Ask the local council, or any other public body, to fly official flags at half-mast on the day. Remember that the day is officially recognised by the Government;
Arrange an event such as planting a memorial tree in a public place, putting up a plaque, dedicating a sculpture, a piece of art, or a bench, to remember workers who have been killed at their workplace or in the community;
If you are planning any events for the day, or you want to raise awareness about Workers’ Memorial Day on 28 April, then it is important you consider how you can best use local media both before and on the Day to promote it;
Ask local religious centres to include Workers’ Memorial Day in their worship on the day;
Distribute purple ‘forget-me-not’ ribbons, the symbol of Workers’ Memorial Day;
Let people know about anything that happened in your area on the day.
Resources (Ribbons and Stickers)
For resources on Workers’ Memorial Day including ribbons and car stickers please contact the ‘Greater Manchester Hazards Centre’ at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
TUC List of Events and Resources
The TUC is compiling a list of WMD events taking place across the country and the list will be updated over the coming weeks. Some of these events will also feature a minute’s silence at noon, or a suitable time. The events will either be on Thursday 28th April and some will take place on the weekend of 30th April/1st May. More details are available from TUC HQ at:
Dave Joyce National Health, Safety & Environment Officer
“Make Safe And Healthy Work A Fundamental Right”
Every worker should know they have the right to expect that everything is done to keep them safe at work –
and CWU says NO to a Tory post-Brexit bonfire of EU Safety Laws through the “Brexit Freedoms Bill”.