Yesterday was international workers memorial day, and as usual trade unionists gathered with families of those killed at work or from work-related industrial injuries. We vowed that while we remember the dead, we fight for the living.
Health and safety at work is not mere red tape. Complying with health and safety regulations and recommendations can actually save lives.
Five years ago when Rana Plaza collapsed in Bangladesh, thousands of children and families lost mothers, daughters and sisters, all garment workers to a disaster that should not have taken place. The weight of the sewing machines had been found to be six times over the weight for the building, cracks had appeared in the walls, other premises in the building evacuated. Still, health and safety is just red tape?
Garment workers have organised for better terms and conditions and a living wage. 1600 garment factories have signed the Bangladesh Accord. Shamefully GAP and Walmart (parent company to Asda) have refused. The fight in the fashion industry to expose exploitation of the labour behind he labels continues.
Health and safety of women workers is under-recognised. Facilities for menstruating women are often inadequate. Almost every woman has experienced the uncomfortable and often excruciating difficulty of being “caught out” at work. PCS member Nadine has blogged about her workplace campaign to improve sanitary provision. Also Monica Lennon MSP has changed Scotland for good in her ground break bill to end Period Poverty.
Menopause, uniform issues, caring responsibilities and sexual harassment in the workplace are class issues and health and safety concerns as much as construction injuries. I am proud of workers like Nadine who take the initiative to organise in her workplace to put things right for women.