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Health and safety campaigners gathered at the Cenotaph in Wolverhampton today to commemorate workers memorial day.
The annual wreath laying near St Peter’s Church, remembers workers who have been killed or seriously injured in industrial accidents during the last year.
Three Wolverhampton workers – Trevor Bagshaw 68, William Price, 63 and Mohammed Yasin 37, died last year from work related accidents.
But Secretary of Wolverhampton Trades Union Council Nick Kelleher said 79 people died early in the city from “job related injuries and illnesses.”
He said: “Our industrial past has shaped this town. All the people who work in Wolverhampton make it the town we’re proud of now – whether we’re council or health workers, factory workers or teachers, builders, posties, carers or fire-fighters.
“It’s tragic then, when work brings about the end of life; when it contributes to the breakdown of families & fracturing of communities.
“But it should never be an expected part of working life.”
He blamed government cuts to the H&S Executive, pointing out they can only prosecute one in a thousand breaches of H&S law.
He said: “They believe our H&S laws are red tape. Better red tape than red bandages.”
He urged people in the city to fight for improvements in Health and Safety at work as “more than just a bureaucratic tick list to be checked.”
He added: “We can achieve this when we are organised in the workplace, when we join together in trade unions to campaign for safer working conditions.”
“Trade unions have a long, proud history of not only helping their members when tragedy and hardship strike, but also of using our collective voice to ensure that these awful accidents never happen in the first place.”
“Let us remember the dead and fight for the living.”
According to TUC research, funding to the HSE has been cut by 40 per cent, new regulations have been blocked and local authorities have reduced their workplace inspections by 93 per cent.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The government says that the UK is a safe place to work and that we don’t need any more regulation. If only this were the case. With the UK ranked just 20th in the health and safety risk index of 34 developed nations, we’ve hardly got a record to be proud of.”