International Workers' Memorial Day.
What is IWMD?
Every year on Workers' Memorial Day 28th April, along with millions of others worldwide, many in the West Midlands commemorate those killed and injured by work.
They also raise issues that point the way towards tackling the causes of the huge numbers of work-related deaths, which is more than the number killed by wars; and to greater rights for those killed and injured, and their families.
Event origins - West Midlands link
Workers' Memorial Day was commemorated originally in the US and Canada until Tommy Harte, while working at the West Midlands Health & Safety Advice Centre (HASAC) brought the event first to Birmingham in the 1980s, then to the rest of the West Midlands, and then to the rest of the UK, from where it has spread around the world, with more and bigger events each year.
HASAC closed down in 2000, and the West Midlands Hazards Trust aims to fill the gap left as a result.
WMHT would like to hear from anyone interested in helping to commemorate these events in future. Planning each annual event these days is happening earlier, to ensure maximum involvement.
We Didn't Vote to Die at Work
- is a key campaign of the UK Hazards Campaign. Highlighting government policies that lead to deadly safety cuts, this campaign has raised issues of how:
- deregulation of safety laws
- cuts to enforcing authorities
- changing the emphasis of enforcement to advice
- making compensation harder to win
are among the attacks on working people's rights to a safe workplace.
As part of this campaign, a #HealthandSelfie is taken at IWMD event in Birmingham and sent to David Cameron.
Hazards Blueprint for a Safer, Saner Society
The Hazards Campaign outlines what a safer regulatory regime would be in its Hazards Blueprint for a Safer, Saner Society . This would mean a situation "where workers are at the centre of safety policy, not the victims of it" and the Health & Safety Executive are a body prepared to use their teeth to enforce real improvement in health at work. This is the basis for the range of Hazards campaigns.
Manifesto for Health & Safety Change
This is a list of demands which put forward a counter programme to that of governments which want to de-regulate safety laws, cut back on safety reps' rights, and cut back on proper enforcement.
This manifesto, "Health and Safety - Time for Change" is ideal to be used to raise questions in the lead up to elections.
The manifesto wants:
- preventive inspections of all workplaces, not just reactive ones
- stronger rights for safety reps, such as the right to appoint roving safety reps where needed
- occupational health to be as important as injury prevention, backed up by specific measures
- a tighter, legally-binding standard for inhalable dust
- removal of cancer-causing chemicals at work where possible with enforceable control measures
- a maximum temperature for indoor work with improved requirements for outdoor workers
- more help for vulnerable workers, including a stronger Gangmasters Licensing Authority
- a new legal duty on directors which spells out their health & safety duties
- regulations that ensure public contracts have high h&s standards, and client to monitor them
- the UK to ratify International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions e.g. on asbestos & construction, which provide minimum standards around the world
Hazards Trust member & UCATT activist Neil Vernon, pictured above, tells the crowd at the Birmingham event 2014 about his joint TU trip to Qatar and what can be done to prevent more people being killed building the World Cup stadium there.
International Workers Memorial Day (IWMD)
West Midlands IWMD contacts
Besides the Hazards Trust, in the West Midlands, the main organisers of IWMD events are the Trades Union Councils, contact details are below.
Birmingham & Solihull
firstname.lastname@example.org along with WMHT
Details of events are listed in, amongst other places, the TUC website, in the weeks before the events.
Hazards Campaign network
The Hazards Campaign is a national network established in 1988, financed by donations from supporting groups and individuals.
It draws together hazards centres, occupational health projects, health and safety groups, safety reps networks and Trades Union Councils' Safety Committees, specific campaigns and individual health and safety activists.