Remember also, those who gave their lives at work . . .
I am writing this on the first anniversary (24th April) of the fire in the
Bangladesh garment factory that killed over 1100 workers. One year
on their families still wait for adequate compensation and large retailers
still “bring to the market” clothing made in unsafe conditions by over
exploited workers in Bangladesh and elsewhere.
Monday April 28th is Workers’ Memorial Day, when trade unions
across the world remember fellow workers who have lost their lives
due to accidents at work, which have often been caused by a lack
of health and safety measures by employers, and reaffirm their
commitment to creating and maintaining safe working environments.
As the TUC says on its website The purpose behind Workers
Memorial Day has always been to “remember the dead; fight for the
living” … the latter can best be done by building trade union
organisations, and campaigning for stricter enforcement of health &
safety laws with higher penalties for breaches.
Deaths at work due to poor Health and Safety measures are not
confined to poor countries. In the UK of particular concern is the
danger faced by workers on building sites. 760 site workers have
been killed since 2001, more than the number of British soldiers killed
in Iraq and Afghanistan combined during the same period.
In 2012-13, 5.2 million working days were lost due to injury at work
and there were 148 fatalities. After a steady decline in recent years,
there is a serious concern that deaths and injuries are showing an
There has been a decrease in trade union membership with an
increased casualisation of the workforce in recent years, something
that is particularly strong on building sites. To compound this problem,
the budget of the Health and Safety Executive was cut by 35% in
2011, which has resulted in fewer inspections and fewer prosecutions
of negligent employers. This puts more workers lives and health at risk.
The Green Party agrees with the TUC that we need a strong strategy
on Health and Safety from the European Commission to raise standards
throughout Europe. We also recognise that actions by politicians in
Parliaments need to be combined with action by trade unions, fighting,
like the Green Party, for the Common Good.