Remember the dead. Fight for the living.
Workers' Memorial Day: 28th April 2007
Workers' Memorial Day
Every year more people are killed at work than in wars. Most don't die of mystery ailments, or in tragic "accidents". They die because an employer decided their safety just wasn't that important a priority. Workers’ Memorial Day commemorates those workers. This year Bristol Trades Union Council will hold a ceremony to remember the dead, but fight like hell for the living at the Workers' Memorial plaque in Castle Park, Bristol at 1.00pm.
Worker’s Memorial Day is held on 28 April every year, all over the world workers and their representatives conduct events, demonstrations, vigils and a whole host of other activities to mark the day. The day is also intended to serve as a rallying cry to “remember the dead, but fight like hell for the living”.
This year's Workers' Memorial Day theme is ' Health and Safety needs not just regulations, but also enforcement'
The purpose behind Workers' Memorial Day has always been to "remember the dead: fight for the living" and unions are asked to focus on both areas, by considering memorials to all those killed through work but at the same time ensuring that such tragedies are not repeated. That can best be done by building trade union organisation, and campaigning for stricter enforcement with higher penalties for breaches of health & safety laws.
Building site deaths 'unpunished'
BBC News: 27 April 2007
Research was conducted for construction union UCATT
The number of companies convicted of offences following the deaths of construction workers has fallen sharply, a report suggests.
But the number of workers killed in construction accidents last year rose by 25%, the study adds.
The report by building union UCATT shows prosecutions for deaths fell from 42% to 11% between 1998 and 2004.
However, the union's figures have been disputed by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
The study has been published to mark Workers Memorial Day on 28 April.
It often takes more than three years following the death of a construction worker before a company is brought to trial and convicted.
The report states that 504 construction workers died over a six year period to 2004.
It claimed there were huge regional differences in the likelihood of a company being prosecuted and there were disturbing trends in the level of fines.
The construction workers union has campaigned for a crack down on companies that jeopardise safety on building sites.
"We can't just take the view there's been a ghastly incident so let's go off immediately and prosecute someone" - Geoffrey Podger, HSE chief executive
Alan Ritchie, leader of UCATT, said the failure of the HSE to prosecute was "profoundly shocking".
In a statement, the HSE said that in the majority of cases inspectors took appropriate action.
However, it said it recognised that further improvements were needed.
Geoffrey Podger, chief executive of the HSE, told the BBC that prosecutions are examined on a case-by-case basis.
"We don't have targets for prosecution," he said.
"Every prosecution has to be considered on the circumstances of the case - is the evidence available? Does it support a prosecution? Is it in the public interest?
"And we're like any other prosecutor, we've got to behave fairly. We can't just take the view there's been a ghastly incident so let's go off immediately and prosecute someone.
"And actually our overall rate of prosecution is going up, it's not going down, and we are, as far as we're concerned, a regulator with teeth and we're quite prepared to use them in this sector."