Why we remember the dead and fight for the living

Today is international workers memorial day. I was honoured to be guest speaker at a ceremony organised by Paisley and District Trade Union Council.

28 April marks a day of rememberance for us to think about those loved ones, colleagues and comrades killed, injured or disabled by their work. It is a poignant reminder to our movement that workjers across the globe face daily risks that going to work can bring.

Some amongst us go to work and never come home. Others suffer years of pain through industrial illness and disease, and many are no longer able to earn because of accidents at work.

The International Labour Organisation reports that every 15 seconds, somewhere in the world, a worker dies from a work related accident or illness. Also every 15 seconds, 153 people have work-related acccidents. More people die from their work than fighting wars.

While we remember our dead, we carry on our fight for the living.

The right wing mantra is that there is too much read tape, andf as they accuse those of us that seek to protect workers at their work from hazards, as advocating “health and safety, gone mad.” We must counter these lies and stop the dilution of health and safety regulation and enforcement.

David Cameron has pledged a further 50% cut tothe Health and Safety Executive, yet already the cuts are so deep that the chance of an inspector coming to your workplace is now once in every ten years.

I believe, the Smith Commission got it wrong in not recommending Health and Safety amongst further powers to be devolved to Scotland. Like the late Tony Benn, I advocate bringing power closer to the people in order for them to exorcise more influence over it. Health and safety is one area in which the people must have more say.


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