Four trade unionists, one each from France and Colombia plus two Trades Council representatives from Britain, observed a minute’s silence at the Workers’ Memorial Tree in Cornwallis Gardens last Tuesday to remember workers killed, disabled, injured, or made unwell by their work. Meanwhile, throughout Hastings and the rest of the country, people stood in silence for one minute to remember those NHS workers who have died as a result of the coronavirus.

The call to remember was made by the trade union Unison, along with the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Midwives. It’s ironic that most people, including national media, were probably unaware of the significance of the date chosen – an annual memorial day fought for by unions in North America to establish workplace safety, with the slogan: “Remember the dead – Fight for the living”. In Canada, it is even commemorated as the National Day of Mourning.

The Guardian’s report ran: “Britain’s political leaders joined

NHS staff and members of the public in a nationwide silence for key workers who have died in the coronavirus outbreak.” These are the same political leaders whom many regard as having failed to protect the NHS workers and other frontline workers.

The event at Cornwallis Gardens paid tribute to “all workers who have been killed or injured in the workplace or are suffering from work-related disease”, said one of the Trades Council reps taking part. “We read out the names of 119 health industry workers killed recently by Covid-19 – aggravated in many cases by managerial mistakes, by racism and by government incompetence. We also read out the names of two workers killed at work last year, Jack Phillips and George David Murrell, which had nothing to do with Covid-19.”

He added: “This year our thoughts are with those affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. We salute the essential workers keeping us safe. Remember the dead and fight like hell for the living! Join a union!”


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