On 28th April, all around the world the trade union movement comes together and marks International Workers’ Memorial Day.
This is the time to remember those who have lost their lives at work, or from work-related injury and diseases. To renew our efforts to ‘fight for the living’ and demand safer working conditions.
Workers Memorial Day is commemorated throughout the world and is officially recognised by the UK Government. We remember those we have lost and we organise in their memory.
This year, the theme is the Coronavirus. There is a pandemic and the Trade Union Congress has said that 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.
In Lewisham, we are no exception. The Lewisham Trades Council – the local TUC – has held a socially distanced show of support for all those affected.
Firefighters showed their respect outside fire stations.
The London Ambulance Service observed the 11am mark of respect at their HQ and across the capital.
Bus workers from New Cross Bus Garage released a short film. The film which starts with a poem by Carolyn Pelling, a New Cross Bus Driver.
I wake to my alarm to start a new day I shower and dress and set out on my way I make a coffee and fill my flask Then leave the house not forgetting my mask I arrive at work my day is the same Driving a bus via a London bus lane Keyworkers to work , they rely on us So that’s why we drive our red London bus Drivers have died due to Covid 19 A space on the rota where once they have been So on this day at 11 a.m. We fall silent and remember them
Credits: Camera: Damian Daniel Edit: Matt Robinson Cat & Owl Films www.catandowlfilms.co.uk Narration: Alexa Bauer Music: Candy by Cameo
As the Lewisham Trades Council assembled outside Lewisham Hospital, a cleaner from the same Trust was in a disciplinary hearing with their GMB union representative, Helen O’Connor over a lack of PPE.
The cleaner who works near the entrance of the Queen Elizabeth’s hospital, in Woolwich told The London Economic he wasn’t entitled to wear a face mask, despite “people walking in and out coughing and sneezing” near him. The 57-year-old said he requested a mask as he lives with his brother who is self-isolating as he has two serious lung conditions.
The President of the GMB and Lewisham resident, Barbara Plant issued a statement saying: “Tuesday 28th April is International Workers Memorial Day, when every year members of trade unions all around the world organise events to remember those who have lost their lives, whether it be gathering for speeches, lighting candles, planting memorial trees or taking part in a minutes’ silence.
This gives us the opportunity to reflect on the many people who are killed, seriously injured or made ill while simply doing their jobs.
Sadly this year many of our colleagues, friends and family have become ill or tragically died from Covid-19 as they bravely kept going to work during the pandemic to ensure we have food and essential deliveries, we’re cared for, our children are educated and people who need to get to and from work can do during this time.”
We will remember the dead and fight for the living.