Opinion Former Article

NASUWT: Workers Memorial Day takes on new poignancy

The NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union, will be supporting Workers’ Memorial Day, the biggest national event in support of health and safety on 28 April.

It is being seen as a day of action to defend health and safety from the unprecedented attack currently being mounted against workplace safety by the Coalition Government.

The Coalition has already announced plans to radically slash health and safety laws, cut safety inspections and make it much harder for teachers and other workers to get justice and compensation for injuries and illnesses caused by their work.

Ministers have sought to justify their attack on workers’ rights by claiming that health and safety laws are over the top and swamping businesses in ‘red tape’.

However, the truth is that thousands of workers, many of them teachers, continue to be injured and made seriously ill as a result of their work each year. The number of casualties is only likely to increase as a result of these attacks.

Chris Keates, NASUWT General Secretary, said:

"On a regular basis, the Coalition wheels out apocryphal stories about health and safety for the amusement and entertainment of the public.

"The underlying, sinister intention of the Government in promoting and encouraging stories which trivialise health and safety is to use them as decoys to distract from and excuse its disgraceful stripping away of basic, hard fought for, critically important HASAW regulation.

"The most shocking indication of the extent of the Coalition’s agenda with regard to HASAW was in the March 2012 budget papers which committed the Government to scrapping or improving 84% of health and safety regulation, including legislating in 2012 so that strict liability provisions in health and safety law will no longer hold employers to be in breach of their duties when they have done everything reasonably practicable and foreseeable to protect employees.

"This at a time when deaths at work still average over 150 per year, when serious injuries average 25,000 per year and when there are over 90,000 injuries per year, which require over three days of medical treatment.

"Workers Memorial Day will now take on a new poignancy. No longer will we be remembering the dead, while taking some comfort from the fact that workplace fatalities are falling, as they have been in recent years. We now face the bleak prospect of a rising death toll and serious injury, with families losing not only their loved ones but the right to hold negligent employers to account."

ENDS

Notes to Editors

The NASUWT continues to campaign against abuses of health and safety and the watering down of legislation

Recently the Union has campaigned on the dangers to teachers and pupils caused by excessive temperatures in schools and continues to highlight the deadly legacy of asbestos in school buildings.


Ben Padley,

Press Officer

Campaigns and Communications

NASUWT

Hillscourt Education Centre

Rednal

Birmingham

B45 8RS

0121 457 6269

07785 463 119

 

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