Yorkshire Times
Weekend Edition
2:01 PM 28th April 2021

Workers Memorial Day Is Commemorated Today

This year Workers Memorial Day will be incredibly poignant. In 2019 the TUC remembered 42 people who had died through workplace accidents.

In the last twelve months Covid has increased that many times. Over 8000 working people died from Covid. Over 1000 NHS and care staff have died from workplace infection in the UK - including some in Leeds. Two Leeds bus drivers died just before Christmas along with a Leeds teacher.

Leeds TUC gathered for a small socially distanced event at 11am at the workers Memorial Day monument outside of Leeds art gallery to lay a wreath.

Jane Aitchison Leeds TUC President said “We have met online every week to help defend Leeds workers from the life and death health and safety threat Covid has been. Trade unions have provided support and protection to all those key workers risking their lives to keep us safe. Trade union membership is going up - because if the pandemic has taught us anything it is that trade unions have your back. We will remember the dead and we will always fight for the living.”

Pauline Bailey Leeds TUC Secretary said “We remember transport workers, shop workers, care staff, call centre staff, factory and warehouse staff, postal workers, medical and hospital staff, the list is endless. Many of these workers were in precarious, low paid, zero hour contract jobs and were not given the support they needed to stay safe. They still aren’t.

"We condemn this government who are still not doing what is needed to make people safe at work. We call for a proper track, trace, isolate and support system to protect workers. We call for more resources to ensure that all workplaces are covid-safe and properly ventilated so that many more potential workplace deaths can be avoided. We call for sickness payments at a rate that enables workers to take time off work if they are ill or when they are having to self-isolate.
“Remember the dead, fight for the living” This TUC quote for International Workers Memorial Day says it all.”

John Ingleson Branch secretary of the unison health branch said “At the start of the pandemic our members bravely worked in covid areas not knowing what they were facing and what they were perhaps bringing home to their families.

Many NHS workers have died during this terrible year, and on workers Memorial Day it is right that we stop and think about that , and give thanks for the work that all NHS workers have done under terrific pressure.

To keep our members safe in the future we need investment in training, infer structure and staffing numbers. Front line workers will be scarred from what they have witnessed and a focus on mental health will be essential to maintain staff wellbeing and an actual workforce.

On behalf of my branch , UNISON Leeds Teaching Hospitals, I want to send my admiration and thanks to all front line workers , and my fighting commitment to improving conditions for the future.”

John Puntis - retired Consultant from Keep Our NHS Public said “ The latest Public Health England figures show that in a recent four week period, Yorkshire and the Humber – which has less than 10% of England’s population – accounted for 36.2% of all workplace infections. This relates to the types of industry in our region and emphasises how one year into the pandemic, the work environment remains a dangerous place for many. It is time for the Government and employers to get a grip on workplace safety in order to protect both workers and the wider community. This is urgent, given widespread predictions by scientists of a third wave of infection in the summer. No worker should be seen as expendable.”