Addressing conference, John Hannett - Usdaw General Secretary says:
“It is important that we do take a stand on this day to say loudly and clearly that health and safety at work is an important right for all workers in all workplaces. In our own country it is important because the current Tory-led Government has chosen to break with a cross-party consensus on health and safety which has lasted since the 1970s.
“That consensus held that regulation is needed to protect workers in all walks of life and that implementation of the law is best achieved by a joint approach between regulators, employers and workers; but this Government has chosen instead to attack health and safety as a burden on business.
“Sadly, their version of events is far from the truth. Even the reports they have commissioned themselves have concluded that health and safety laws are fit for purpose. And independent research here and in other countries has shown that regulation backed by a strong inspectorate is better for business as well as for workers.
“Yet it has not stopped them from continuing with their attack. Under the guise of freeing business from this alleged burden they have: Cut the resources to the Health and Safety Executive; ordered HSE inspectors to cut back on workplace inspections; forced local authorities to cut their inspections of premises where most Usdaw members work by 95 per cent, and made legal changes including most-recently there farcical attempts to exempt self-employed people from health and safety law.
“We must remember that Workers Memorial Day is not only about grieving for the dead after the event. It is an opportunity to renew our commitment to prevent such suffering in the first place.
“Decent jobs and safe and healthy workplaces cannot be achieved by wishful thinking and good intentions. It requires constant vigilance to make sure that health and safety standards are maintained. Usdaw health and safety reps continue to play a vital role in protecting the health, safety and well-being of members in their workplaces and the Union remains committed to campaigning for effective health and safety laws and strong enforcement of those laws.”
Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers)
is the UK's fourth biggest and the fastest growing trade union with over 430,000 members. Membership has increased by more than 17% in the last five years and by nearly a third in the last decade. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the Union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.
Workers' Memorial Day
is the day when the international Labour Movement remembers those who have been killed or injured in workplace accidents and those who have died from occupational diseases. The event started in North America in 1986 and has been supported by Usdaw since 1995. The Day is now a global event and is officially recognised by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and by the International Trade Union Movement (ITUC).
For Usdaw press releases visit: www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion