Bristol International Workers Memorial Day April 28th 2021

IWMD 2021
Health and Safety is a fundamental workers’ right
Assemble at Tony Benn House
Victoria Street, Bristol
Wed. 28th April 2021, 11:15
March to Castle Park for
wreath laying ceremony

Speaking

Chris Marsh (GMB Rep Wessex Water)
Suzy Cheeke (Vice-President Bristol TUC)
Stuart Davies (Legal Officer UNITE)
Shona Jemphrey
(UNISON member, Labour Candidate for Lawrence Hill and member of NCG of Momentum)

A leaflet advertising the march & wreath laying can be found here – Workers Memorial Day 2021

Every year more people are killed at work than in wars. Most don’t die of mystery ailments, or in tragic “accidents”. They die because an employer decided their safety just wasn’t that important a priority. International Workers’ Memorial Day (IWMD) commemorates those workers.

We remember those who have lost their lives at work, or from work-related injury and diseases. We renew our efforts to organise collectively to prevent more deaths, injuries and disease as a result of work.

Workers Memorial Day is commemorated throughout the world and is officially recognised by the UK Government. We remember those we have lost. We fight in their memory.

In the South West during 2019/2020 13 workers lost their life’s due to industrial accidents.  It’s still fresh in our thoughts of those 4 workers killed in an explosion at the Avonmouth water treatment plant (December 2020).


The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed an occupational health crisis in workplaces worldwide. Workers are routinely denied even basic health and safety protections, including consultation with safety reps and safety committees on ‘Covid-safe’ policies and practices, free access to personal protective equipment and protection from victimisation for raising health and safety concerns. These same problems existed before the pandemic and resulted in millions of deaths each year from work-related injuries and diseases.

The pandemic demonstrates why health and safety must be a right for everyone who works. Illness anywhere threatens illness everywhere. Unions secured agreement at the International Labour Conference in 2019 that occupational health and safety should be recognised as an International Labour Organisation (ILO) fundamental right at work – the decent, universally accepted and binding rights protecting all workers, everywhere. The ILO Centenary Declaration accepts “safe and healthy working conditions are fundamental to decent work”.

On 28 April 2021, unions can send a message that health and safety protection at work must be recognised as a right for all. Whether it is Covid or occupational cancers, or workplace injuries and industrial diseases, every worker should have a right to a voice and a right to protection. No-one should have to die to make a living.

It’s still too early to know whether we will lawfully be able to attend the memorial events which usually take place on IWMD. Whatever happens trade union members will be taking part, respecting legal requirements, in this collective day of remembrance and solidarity.

Wherever you are at 12:00 on Wenesday 28th April 2021, take part in the minute’s silence. It will be a moment to pay 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. The initiative is supported by the government, and reps may wish to request employers to mark it, by asking the workforce to cease work for one minute at 12:00. Help spread the word about the minute’s silence, by encouraging as many friends and colleagues as possible to take part, whether in their workplace or at home.

Other events will be organised by Bristol Trades Union Council, Bristol Unison, Bristol FBU and South West TUC. Add a comment here to tell us about your Bristol and South Glos. event.

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One per cent pay rise “is the worst kind of insult”

Pay us what we deserve

Commenting on the publication of the recommendation, UNISON head of health Sara Gorton said:

“No wonder the chancellor had nothing to say about the NHS yesterday [in the budget speech]. A one per cent pay rise is the worst kind of insult the government could give health workers who’ve given their absolute everything over the past year.”

Sara went on to say that “The public will be horrified. Staff will think it’s some kind of joke.”

Unite accused the government of being callous when Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “The government’s evidence to the NHS Pay Review Body, due to report in May, saying that it wants the pay of NHS staff pegged at one per cent is callous and takes no account of the public mood.”

Gail went on to say that “During the pandemic, NHS staff were on the frontline 24/7 saving patients’ lives and caring for the dying. More than 620 NHS and social care staff lost their lives to Covid-19.”

Continuing Gail said that “Unite will continue to make the case strongly that NHS staff, deserve an immediate pay rise of £3,000-a-year or 15 per cent, whichever is greater.”

Though she pointed out that “Even this figure won’t start to make up for the 19 per cent decrease in pay in real terms that many NHS workers have lost since the Tories came to power in 2010.”

Bristol Trades Union Council says that Department of Health and Social Care recommendation was one of shame for a morally bankrupt government.

Bristol Trades Union Council and the entire NHS workforce demands that the pay review body, reporting in May, comes up with a much more sensible and realistic recommendation than this laughable suggestion by the government.

Unless explicitly stated otherwise any commercial advertisements appearing on this page aren’t endorsed or supported by Bristol Trades Union Council.

Schools reopening March 2021

The two meter rule

Bristol Trades Council extends solidarity to education staff across Bristol as schools allow all pupils back on site on Monday and will continue to support and share any action taken.

As 10 million, pupils and staff are herded back into school buildings this Monday, the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), GMB, National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), NASUWT, National Education Union (NEU), National Governance Association (NGA), Sixth Form Colleges’ Association (SFCA), Unison, and Unite have all signed a statement that although all staff want pupils back in school as soon as possible, this must be done in a safe and sustained fashion.

Student wearing masks

To ensure that this is safe, and doesn’t lead to a further spike in cases, we need further mitigations, and the key thing is to have smaller class sizes. That means more social distancing, less viral load testing the ventilation of the room, and less mixing of households. Calls for this have been backed by scientists in SAGE and Indie SAGE, who have warned of a third wave with virus rates of transmission increasing by 10-50% from schools reopening, even with the vaccination roll out as far as it is, and they argue that things should be relaxed later.

It could be easily achieved by opening Nightingale classes, ran by supply staff, many of whom haven’t been able to access furlough and so have been living off very little for the past year. Or by putting in rotas, with students spending part of the week in school, and part of the week learning remotely. Unfortunately, the government doesn’t wish to take these obvious steps. Instead, they insist that by all pupils facing forwards and if they’re over 11, maybe wearing a mask, it will be safe enough. This is an appalling shirking of a duty of care for staff and students by the government, and one that won’t be forgotten quickly by education staff.

Unless explicitly stated otherwise any commercial advertisements appearing on this page aren’t endorsed or supported by Bristol Trades Union Council.

Bristol International Workers Memorial Day 2020 – report

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.

 

Jim Whelan (Chair Unite Bristol Transport & Food branch (SW/001823)) wrote this –

“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.

Unless explicitly stated otherwise any commercial advertisements appearing on this page aren’t endorsed or supported by Bristol Trades Union Council.

Bristol International Workers Memorial Day 2020

Remember COVID-19 dead this
International Workers’ Memorial Day
April 28th 2020

Every year on April 28th, all around the world, the trade union movement unites to mark International Workers’ Memorial Day (#IWMD20). We remember those who have lost their lives at work, or from work-related injury and diseases. We renew our efforts to organise collectively to prevent more deaths, injuries and disease as a result of work.

Workers Memorial Day is commemorated throughout the world and is officially recognised by the UK Government. We remember those we have lost. We fight in their memory.

During the current pandemic a heart-breaking number of workers have died from coronavirus; this is a tragedy felt deeply by us all. Too many of our friends and colleagues have fallen ill, lost their lives or continue to be put at risk at work every day. Many more will be grieving the loss of loved ones.

The coronavirus pandemic affects every worker regardless of sector or locality. Tens of thousands of workers worldwide have died. More have fallen ill or continue to go to work risking their lives. Many workers are still attending work ill-equipped and without necessary safety measures in place. We could not have a starker reminder of the important role of trade union health and safety reps in saving and protecting workers’ lives, than the current crisis we are living through.

While we may not be able to attend the memorial events which usually take place on IWMD, as public gatherings around the world are not advised or allowed, there are many ways trade union members can take part in our collective day of remembrance and solidarity.

IWMD 2020 Minutes SilenceWherever you are at 11am on Tuesday 28th April 2020, take part in the minute’s silence. It will be a moment to pay 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. The initiative is supported by the government, and reps may wish to request employers to mark it, by asking the workforce to cease work for one minute at 11am. Help spread the word about the minute’s silence, by encouraging as many friends and colleagues as possible to take part, whether in their workplace or at home.


The South West TUC are holding a Facebook live meeting at 10:30 on the 28th where they are going to try and link Zoom speakers to a Facebook Live session. It will end with the minute’s silence at 11:00. Details can be found on the South West TUC Facebook page.

As so many of us are working from home or not working at all, Bristol Trades Union Council is asking you to campaign collectively by posing in your workplace, home or open space with one of the posters that can be found on at the bottom of this page or you could pose with a poster containing your own message. Please get a family member to take a photograph and send to Bristol TUC and we’ll post all received photographs on our website.

Here’s a sample photo so you’ll get an idea of what we’re looking for. Note the scruffy bloke with his hair standing on end is our Communications officer, let’s hope he wears something smarter and combs his hair on the day!

BTUC Communications Officer

The suggested posters can be downloaded by selecting one or more of the links below

Remember The Dead
Fight For The Living
Support Our NHS Workers
Thanks Care Workers
Cheers Drive
Solidarity With Shop Workers
Solidarity With Transport Drivers
Thanks Postal Workers
Thanks
Write your own message

More events are listed in the comments section.

Unless explicitly stated otherwise any commercial advertisements appearing on this page aren’t endorsed or supported by Bristol Trades Union Council.