With the unsurprising theme of Coronavirus, this year, International Workers Memorial Day will focus on remembering those who have lost their lives after contracting COVID19 whilst working.
Every year on April 28th, the global trade union movement marks International Workers’ Memorial Day. With the slogan, ‘Remember the dead: Fight for the living’ the day remembers those killed, disabled, injured or made unwell by their work. Highlighting also the continued need to campaign for safe working conditions.
Already across the world more than 100 healthcare workers have lost their lives trying to protect the public. Other workers, across many sectors, are also risking their lives. They are working to keep society running and many are ill-equipped and without necessary safety measures in place.
“Healthcare workers in particular are risking their lives doing their job to take care of the sick. And there are people working in aged care and other facilities looking after the most vulnerable groups of people. But we also need transport and supermarket workers, providers of essential services and many others to keep the economy going.”
Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation.
The Memorial day provides a sharp focus for the continued need to campaign for safer working conditions during the pandemic. In the health and social care setting this has focused on the need for adequate personal protective equipment (PPE). The CSP have demanded urgent action be taken by governments in all four UK countries to protect physiotherapy staff. While CSP safety reps have been instrumental in ensuring risk assessments take place and workplace changes are made in consultation with the workforce.
What can you do?
Become a CSP safety rep
With COVID19 we could not have a starker reminder of the important role of trade union health and safety reps in saving and protecting workers’ lives. The CSP is asking members to consider becoming a CSP safety rep to help with work to ensure the safety of physiotherapy staff. The role is crucial at this time as there are many issues of health, safety and wellbeing related to COVID-19.
Safety reps can identity where risk assessments should be taking place, carry out workplace inspections of particular areas, and have rights to be consulted by the employer on workplace change. During this period formal election to the role is not required. Members can simply volunteer to become a safety rep.
A minute’s silence
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) is calling on people to observe a minute’s silence at 11am on the day of the 28th April. It will be a moment to pay tribute to those who have lost their lives to coronavirus or other work-related illness or injury. And to thank all those who continue to do vital work at risk to themselves. The initiative is supported by the government, and reps may wish to request employers to mark it, by asking colleagues, where clinically possible, to cease work for one minute at 11am.
Due to the current circumstances most activities on the day will be online. Promote the day on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram using #IWMD20 and #StopthePandemicAtWork. Downloadable #IWMD posters, and social media graphics are available from the TUC website.
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