Ceremony honours workers during campaign for employee rights in Wolverhampton - WATCH
A ceremony was held in memory of workers who have lost their lives at work and to fight for the rights of current employees across the city.
The 26th annual Wolverhampton Workers’ Memorial Day was held at the cenotaph at St Peter’s Square in the city centre.
Key speakers included Jackie Marshall, of the Prison Officers Association NEW, Wolverhampton council leader Roger Lawrence and Rob Marris MP.
The Wolverhampton South West MP, who recently announced he would not be standing in the upcoming General Election, said ‘there was still a long way to go’ in terms of health and safety in the workplace.
He added: “Almost 50 years ago I got my first job in a factory in Willenhall and I was feeding a shredding machine – I was 15 years old and I never got a single piece of advice on health and safety and looking back im horrified because that machine was not properly guarded.
“We’ve still got a long way to go. Today we have 40,000 premature deaths every year from air pollution, quite a lot of those deaths will be of professional drivers who are exposed to low quality air on the roads.”
The Labour MP went on to criticise the current Conservative government’s alleged lack of acknowledgement for air pollution levels in the UK. Nick Kelleher, secretary of Wolverhampton and Bilston Trades Union Council, said: “The purpose behind Workers’ Memorial Day has always been to remember the dead and fight for the living.
“The event is held to remember all those killed through work and to campaign to improve safety in the workplace today to prevent accidents and illness from work in the future.
“One in every 10 UK workers are denied permanent employee rights as they are gig-workers, casual, seasonal, temporary or agency workers, as well as those on zero-hour contracts and workers bogusly classed as self-employed.
“Time is money’ may be the ethos of the gig-economy, but this also often means cutting corners, taking risks, a lack of quality training and so consequently an increased risk of injury and exposure to hazards.”
Wreaths were laid by UNISON, UNITE, CWU, FBU, PCS and Wolverhampton and Bilston Trades Union Council, whilst the Civic Centre flags were flown at half mast in respect.
Councillor Roger Lawrence said: “It is really important employers take responsibility. I’m delighted to announce during this week the council has formally signed up to the Dying to Work campaign and the Dying to Work charter. The charter recognises that when employees become terminally ill in the employment of the council we will do all we can to support them, in this really difficult time for them and their families.”
“It’s not just about us signing us, it’s about us supporting the campaign and all the employers that have signed up to it.
“There’s much more to do, we need to make sure other employers sign up to it.
“We know in the coming months and years, health and safety regulations are likely to be put under greater pressure through the Brexit process and it’s not acceptable for us to just count the idea that health and safety is just part of Brussels red tape.
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