26 April 2021
Many workers are killed each year, not because 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) 28 April commemorates those workers. It's an opportunity to remember those who have lost their lives at work, or from work-related injury and diseases. It's a chance for us to renew our efforts to organise collectively to prevent more deaths, injuries, and disease because of work.
International Workers Memorial Day is commemorated throughout the world and is officially recognised by the UK Government.
The covid-19 pandemic has exposed what we knew existed before the pandemic but often hasn't had the necessary attention - even though worldwide 2.7 million people die every year because of work. Workers are routinely denied 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.
In 2019, unions helped cement occupational health and safety into the International Labour Organisation (ILO) fundamental rights at work – the ILO Centenary Declaration places safe and healthy working conditions as being fundamental to decent work.
Every day, workers die as a result of occupational accidents or work-related diseases – more than 2.78 million deaths per year. Worldwide there's around 374 million non-fatal work-related injuries each year. Unionised workplaces are safer for workers, and it's never been more important - covid-19 is an occupational health & safety issue.
Here are 5 ways to get involved with IWMD:
You can find more information and resources on the TUC website
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Accord has been working around the clock to ensure our members are kept safe at work. We've met with employers on a regular basis to review covid-19 safety measures, and to ensure that things are put right where measures aren't being implemented or followed. We've also worked to ensure our union reps are involved in the covid-19 specific risk assessments which has helped ensure proper safety measures are being followed.
Covid-19 has also prompted a wider discussion between us and employers about health & safety in the workplace. In Lloyds Banking Group, we've worked with the business to implement changes to the way that risk assessments are conducted, and how our union reps are engaged in the process. Due to covid-19 restrictions, we've not been able to get as many of our union reps to attend risk assessments as we'd like, but as restrictions ease, we'll be able to ensure that we can conduct most risk assessments in workplaces up and down the country. If you spot something that isn't right, raise it with your local union rep, or contact your local Accord officer.
In March 2021, Accord co-signed a TUC statement demanding safety, justice and equality for victims of domestic violence. Domestic violence is a workplace issue as it's a vital place of escape for abuse victims - the pandemic has made this harder with the increase in homeworking. In February, Accord invited its staff, Principal Executive Council members and some of our key reps to join a webinar with the charity SafeLives to help us better understand domestic violence and the support that's available for survivors.
The TUC have produced this timeline which details some of the events in British labour history where employer and government failures have led to preventable deaths of workers. It also includes dates which mark when trade unions won key legislative change to protect rights to safety at work.
Source: TUC TimelineRegister for the IWMD event Become a rep
The Accord Equality Diversity & Inclusion group’s aim is to ensure every individual has the right to an equal opportunity to maximise their potential, regardless of background, and to be treated with dignity and respect. It’s a place where diversity is celebrated, and all contributions are welcomed and cherished without prejudice or judgement. It’s also a chance to collectively learn from our experiences, allowing us to remove barriers and enrich each other’s lives.
The group has a calendar of activities we'll be getting involved in across the year on a broad spectrum of topics. If you’re interested, why not get involved — email us at email@example.com or register to join online.