International Workers Memorial Day 2020

The following blog is written by Maria Feeney - Chair of STUC Youth Committee

As we mark this year’s International Worker’s Memorial Day(IWMD), we are reminded now more than ever the injustice faced by workers across the world whose workplaces lack the adequate health and safety standards in facing the COVID-19 crisis.

In the UK, more than 90 healthcare key workers have already sadly lost their lives in the last month due to COVID-19. This loss of life is even more appalling when healthcare workers have been crying out for necessary Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that could have prevented these deaths.

The Royal College of Physicians reported only yesterday that NHS staff’s lives are still at risk.

Although our efforts to draw rainbows on our windows and stand outside our doors to clap for keyworkers can be seen as an act of solidarity, in reality our efforts are merely futile.

History has proven time and time again that the only way to fight back against exploitative workplaces is through Trade Union activism.

Those on the frontline are facing preventable risks, and in order to show real solidarity, we must hold the Government and companies who are running key work to account and demand PPE and adequate health and safety for our key workers.

With international statistics stating that more people are losing their lives in their workplaces than there are people killed in wars, these figures are inexcusable.In the UK, during the period of 2018/19, 147 workers sadly lost their lives due to work-related fatal injuries. In the same time period, 0.6 million workers sustained non-fatal injuries.These deaths and injuries are not merely tragic accidents. Those at the top of corporations and the Government who are blinded by greed and corruption sacrifice workers lives in the name of profit.

These deaths are preventable. Trade Unionism has never been more vital.

It is through Trade Unionism that we have achieved workplace Health and Safety Reps.

It is through Trade Unionism we have achieved maximum working hours, weekends and holidays so workers are no longer overworking,

It is through Trade Unionism workers can unite and have a voice to speak out against workplace issues.

This list could go on.

We must collectively organise and hold corruption to account– especially young workers. In the UK, young people make up merely 4% of Trade Union membership, despite making up 13% of employees. However, it is now young people who will experience health and safety issues in the workplace for the longest, therefore it should be young people who lead the change and be voices of their Union, especially in such a critical time when everything will be changing due to COVID-19.

The STUC Youth Committee urges young people to join their Union so their voices can be heard.

May we remember the dead and fight for the living.

Join your Trade Union.

Maria Feeney - Chair of STUC Youth Committee

International Workers Memorial Day Online Event - Tuesday 28th April 2020, 10.30-11.00

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