Union honours lives lost in workplace - and calls for safety before profits

Rev Roy Merrin, Mayoress Patricia Porthouse and Mayor, Coun Richard Porthouse light candles at the service.
Rev Roy Merrin, Mayoress Patricia Porthouse and Mayor, Coun Richard Porthouse light candles at the service.

Business bosses have been urged to put lives before profits – as South Tyneside came together to honour lives lost in the workplace.

Wreaths were laid at North Marine Park, South Shields, and candles were lit to honour every worker killed in the line of duty during a civic ceremony at Jarrow Town Hall yesterday to mark International Workers’ Memorial Day.

Without the presence of strong unions, workers are placed in even greater danger.

UCATT Northern Secretary Denis Doody

The Mayor of South Tyneside, Coun Richard Porthouse, and Reverend Roy Merrin led a minute’s silence and lit 21 candles during, one for each life lost at a workplace in Tyne and Wear since April 2001.

Coun Porthouse said: “It is important to observe Workers’ Memorial Day to pay our respects to those who have died, have been injured or fallen seriously ill as a result of their work.”

Construction union UCATT says is concerned that the employment death toll could rise further due to the Health and Safety Executive’s budget being slashed in half by 2020 and changes to health and safety laws.

Denis Doody, regional secretary for UCATT’s Northern Region, said: “Workers Memorial Day is when construction workers come together to pause and remember fellow workers who have been killed and injured at work.

“It is the day when workers say enough is enough and demand that no more workers die because companies are more interested in profits rather than protecting lives.

“Our safety laws have been weakened and Government cuts have reduced the level of enforcement undertaken by the HSE. Without the presence of strong unions, workers are placed in even greater danger.”