We didn’t march in 2020 because of the Coronavirus pandemic, the above pictures were from the Bristol International Workers’ Memorial Day ceremony back in 2018. In 2020 we held a virtual commemoration whether we were at work, in our homes or in an open space all keeping at a safe distance. We also joined in the National one minute’s silence when we paid tribute to the sacrifice made by so many workers during the pandemic, to remember those who’ve sadly lost their lives, and to thank all those who continue to do vital work at great risk whether they work in the NHS, care homes, delivering food and essential supplies, keeping our food shops open, our buses and trains running and our post delivered.
It’s normal at Bristol IWMD ceremonies at Castle Park it’s normal to have a few speakers. We’ve asked some of Bristol’s trade unionists to pen a few words on what IWMD means to them.
“The last few weeks have shown how important health & safety reps and shop stewards are in their workplaces, fighting for better safety standards at a time when employers want to use the crisis to worsen them.Workers whose terms and conditions have been eroded over recent decades, and who have been forced in to insecure employment, are now recognised as frontline workers that society depends on. Those who were considered the bottom of the heap have been shown to be the people who can help us beat the virus.
Unfortunately in the parcel industry, we have suffered losses due to COVID-19, and the thoughts of all parcel workers are with their families and friends. We’ve also seen a massive increase in workload as a lot of shopping has moved online, leading to more residential parcel deliveries. At the same time, we health & safety reps have had to fight for PPE, and the introduction of social distancing.
At UPS we have involved all our members in making constructive proposals to improve health & safety in the current crisis, and despite management dragging their feet, we have now ensured all UPS workers in the UK have access to facemarks, gloves, and hand sanitiser, every driver is now able to wash their hands while out on the road, we have reached a national agreement that vans are disinfected every day, and the cleaning of buildings has been enhanced.
Workers organising together have won these gains. We can’t rely on governments and lawyers to make us safe, we must do it ourselves through our unions.
The health and safety of frontline workers (including my workmates) is top of the news agenda every day now, and Workers Memorial Day is our opportunity to show that organised workers can deliver this for themselves.
Click on any of the pictures below to start a slide show of the complete set.