Friday 28th April 2017, Castle Park, Bristol
A number of events were held in Bristol to commemorate those killed or injured during the course of their work.
The first event was organised by the local Bristol Hazards group who held an open meeting to highlight how the bosses, in collusion with the state, are continuing to blacklist union Health and Safety reps and other union activists who expose the bad practices implemented by the bosses especially those in construction. The example was given of CrossRail where workers work in an atmosphere of fear. One of the contributors argued that can only be solved by trade unionists taking on the bosses and exposing their sharp practises.
The main event was a march through the city to a wreath laying ceremony at Bristol’s commemorative plaque which remembers those killed whilst at work. The rally was addressed by Alex Kempshall (Bristol TUC), Steve Gibbs (Bristol Hazards Group), Lesley Mansell (Labour candidate for West of England Mayor) and Pete Hughes (Unite South West Regional Secretary).
Bristol TUC’s Alex Kempshall said: “In the hour it’s taken us to hold this march and rally, somewhere in the world 240 workers will have died from a work-related accident or disease, and over 34,000 will have had a work-related accident.”
He pointed out that in many cases it was profiteering that was the direct cause of workplace deaths and cited the Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh as an example.
He also pointed out that 440,000 people in Britain had reported work-related stress at a level that has made them ill. Which was 40% of all work-related illnesses with each new case of stress leading to an average 31 days off work, which cost the economy a total of £105 billion a year.
He said that we as trade unionists understand that if workers have to work harder and faster that this increases stress and that this stress interferes with the creativity and problem solving skills required for a modern economy.
He argued that “Capitalism kills and the bosses are the culprits. But there’s a cure — organised resistance in our workplaces and communities, and at the political level. Stronger trade unions and united political struggles are needed.
In conclusion he called for all to ensure that Labour win the contest for the West of England Metro-Mayor and pointed out that we have a duty to ensure that the Tories are kicked out on June 8th.
The third event was organised by Bristol NUT to expose the stress suffered by teachers and students in Bristol’s schools. Local teachers handed out leaflets explaining that for those teachers that stress doesn’t kill it can turn them into exhausted and dispirited robots.
This has come about because even though teachers are having to work 60 to 70 hours a week pupils are getting less teacher time because of larger classes with schools becoming nothing more than exam factories which stress pupils.
To demonstrate teachers as exhausted and dispirited robots the “Lick & Twiddle Theatre Co.” performed street theatre to shoppers and workers in Bristol’s main shopping area.