Workers’ Memorial Day marked across South West

Strong laws, strong enforcement: Workers’ Memorial Day matters in the South West, says UNISON       

UNISON reps will today (28 April 2016) take part in events across the South West to commemorate those who have been injured or killed at work.

This year’s Workers’ Memorial Day is themed “strong laws, strong enforcement”. UNISON is making the case for renewed protections in a changing world of work.

The region has higher than average employment in hazardous industries including agriculture, construction, forestry and fishing (9.3% versus 7.8%).

Self-employment is higher in the South West (16.6%) than in any other region outside London. Self-employed workers often lack the protections and safeguarding policies that benefit workers in standard employment.

UNISON officials are concerned that even jobs in public services where health and safety standards are high are becoming more dangerous. 67,874 assaults on NHS staff were recorded in 2014-15, a rise of 25% in the last six years.

Speaking at an event in Bristol, UNISON South West regional secretary Joanne Kaye said:

“Safe workplaces for staff are also safe environments for the public. Whether in schools or hospitals, or waste disposal and highways maintenance, high safety standards keep everyone protected. UNISON reps do a vital job speaking up for staff who would otherwise be working in dangerous conditions

“Much of the legal basis of the work our Health and Safety reps do comes from European regulations. If the UK left the EU these standards would be under threat. Bread and butter issues like stopping workplace injuries needs to be on the agenda in the EU Referendum Campaign.”