Health and safety is important not just for workers, but for everyone in society, UNISON’s Donna Rowe-Merriman told trade unionists in Milton Keynes ahead of Thursday’s International Workers’ Memorial Day.
A safe workplace for UNISON members is also likely to be a safe hospital, a safe school, or a safe community care package for the public, said Ms Rowe-Merriman, a senior national officer in the union.
She was speaking after a march and rally in the Buckinghamshire town’s MK Rose remembrance garden on Sunday.
The event saw around 60 trade unionists, campaigners, workers, and members of the public gathered to “remember the dead and fight for the living” ahead of this week’s international campaign day.
Ms Rowe-Merriman told the crowd that, on the government’s own figures, the TUC believes that at least 20,000 people die each year from injuries and illnesses related to their jobs.
But the National Hazards Campaign believes the toll could be as high as 50,000 a year.
The event included a minute’s silence and wreath laying to remember those workers who have died as a result of work.
Milton Keynes UNISON branch secretary Graham Blues said the event was a great success that “will serve as a focus point for the local trade unions to come together in solidarity, as they build International Workers’ Memorial Day and the wider local movement.”
Ms Rowe-Merriman concluded by dedicating a plinth “to the memory of all those killed by work; in support of all those and harmed and injured by work, and to our continued fight for safer and healthier work.”