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International Workers Memorial Day: Day of Action to defend health and safety

5 April 2013

International Workers' Memorial Day is commemorated around the world every year on 28 April, to "Remember the Dead, Fight Like Hell for the Living".

Remember the Dead, Fight Like Hell for the Living

Trade unionists remember those killed, injured or made ill whilst at work, or as a result of work. They also renew their commitment to fight for safe and healthy workplaces.

TSSA is calling on all of our health and safety reps and our branches to get involved in local events to mark International Workers' Memorial Day. The TUC and the Scottish TUC have lists of events notified to them on their websites.

Some of the events will feature a minute's silence at noon (or a suitable time). These websites will be updated frequently in the run-up to 28 April, but those that can’t find a local event should make enquiries of their trades council.

No events are known about in Ireland, but the Irish Congress of Trade Unions has organised events in past years, so please check their website.

Don’t forget to take TSSA flags and branch banners!

Distribute purple 'forget-me-not' ribbons, the symbol of Workers Memorial Day. For resources for Workers Memorial Day including ribbons and car stickers please contact the Greater Manchester Hazards centre by email at

Why is International Workers’ Memorial Day so important? Because across the world, more people die at work every year than are killed in wars!!! Most of this carnage is not due to ‘tragic accidents’ – workers die and are maimed because an employer decided that their safety just was not a priority.

The UK government estimates that every year 20,000 die from work-related illnesses and injuries, but many believe that the true figure is closer to 50,000. Despite this, the UK’s coalition government continues to undermine health and safety at work by cutting inspectors, and referring to health and safety legislation as ‘red tape’ and ‘a burden on employers’.

Deaths and serious injuries not only impact on workers, but also wreck the lives of their loved ones, friends and relatives. Families Against Corporate Killers (FACK) is a national campaigning network which campaigns to stop workers and others being killed in preventable incidents. It also directs bereaved families to sources of legal help and emotional support.

This makes the role of union health and safety reps so much more important in defending the rights of workers to a safe and healthy workplace so that they can return safely to their homes at the end of their working day. Health and safety reps have a leading role to play in building trade union power and organisation in the workplace, and campaigning to defend the current legislation and for stricter enforcement with higher penalties for breaches of health & safety laws.

If nothing is happening in their local area, TSSA branches, reps and members are asked to get together with other trade unionists and organise an event. It is on a Sunday this year, but those working on 28 April could organise a minute's silence in your workplace. Other suggestions are:

  • ask the local council, or any other public body to fly official flags at half-mast on the day (the day is officially recognised by the government)
  • arrange an event such as planting a memorial tree in a public place, putting up a plaque, dedicating a sculpture, a piece of art, or a bench, to remember workers who have been killed at the workplace or in the community
  • consider approaching local media both before and on the day to highlight the commemoration, and the reasons behind it
  • ask local religious centres to include Workers' Memorial Day in their worship on the day.

Anyone organising an event for Workers Memorial Day can get it included on the TUC website by sending details by email to

Please notify TSSA Head Office if a TSSA delegation is being arranged to attend an event, or if a TSSA event is being organised – simply email Take lots of photos and email them in! Details of local delegations and events, and your photos, will be posted on the TSSA website and on the TSSA health and safety Facebook page.

"Remember the Dead, Fight Like Hell for the Living"!

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