“Remember the Dead – Fight for the Living”
by the Memorial Tree outside Sheffield Town Hall, Pinstone Street
Kandali Uushoma sheffield refugee speaking for Stand Up to Racism about racial discrimination in health/black workers Richard Bedford – Senior Regional Organiser UNITE the Union
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) 28 April commemorates those workers. International Workers Memorial Day is an internationally recognised event with similar activities taking place in towns and cities all around the globe.
ITUC says “We demand that the International Labour Organization (ILO) adopts occupational health and safety as a fundamental right at work. It’s as important as freedom of association and the elimination of forced labour, child labour and discrimination in employment.” Three years have passed since the ILO Centenary Conference agreed that this would be done. In that time around 8.1 million people have died as a result of their work, and even more now live with life-altering injuries and illnesses because their employer did not protect them.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated beyond doubt that working people can’t wait for this any longer. Workplace deaths are preventable deaths and the latest figures show that a worker dies at least once every ten seconds. By doing this the ILO will be making a start on cutting this appalling toll of death and injuries.”
More than a fundamental right
The ITUC and its affiliates are calling on governments to take action by:
- ratifying and implementing core ILO health and safety conventions;
- ratifying and implementing all sectoral or hazard-specific conventions;
- establishing national health and safety bodies bringing unions and employer representatives together;
- requiring occupational health services for all, and proper compensation including making Covid-19 a recognised occupational disease.
“Employers must take responsibility for assessing and eradicating risks in their workplaces and in their supply chains, and consulting unions on prevention through workplace health and safety committees.
“And we need the ILO to do more and address challenges like stress at work, musculo-skeletal disorders and a convention on biological hazards like Covid-19. It is urgent that Covid-19 is recognised for the workplace threat that it is. Health and safety should be the first priority at work, not an occasional after thought.”