Workers’ Memorial Day 2016

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Today (Thursday) is Workers’ Memorial Day. This annual event is celebrated on April 28th to commemorate all the workers who have died at work. Every year more people are killed at work than in wars. The day aims to “remember the dead, and fight for the living”.

The theme of this year’s event is “Strong laws – Strong enforcement – Strong unions”. The history of union campaigning for health and safety at work is documented in the TUC Library collections. From the Industrial Revolution onwards, workers have organised to improve factory and workplace conditions. Many of the demands for safety legislation have been prompted by major industrial accidents (such as in the photo below) or strikes over conditions (such as the 1888 matchworkers strike over the use of toxic phosporus).

Explosion at Roberts, Dale and Co. chemical works, 22 June 1887

The TUC Library charts the development throughout the 20th century, to the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act, and beyond.

Government poster, 1941

Health and safety, rather undeservedly, often gets a bad press. But it prevents injury and saves lives on a daily basis. Health and safety is also a useful organising issue for union reps, as shown by one of the most recent TUC publications.

To view these items, or anything else in the TUC Library, get in touch.

 

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