UNISON in Waltham Forest co-hosted this year’s event at Walthamstow Town Hall with Waltham Forest Trades Council to mark International Workers Memorial Day, which is held on 28 April every year.
Local MPs John Cryer and Stella Creasy both made time to attend this annual event, despite the pressures of having a General Election next week and they set out Labour’s plans to improve employment rights, especially in repairing some of the damage done to health and safety at work by the Coalition Government. Campaigners pointed out that commitments don’t go far enough and called for action such as making all company directors who kill and maim workers through their negligence face sanctions as individuals. At the moment individuals can evade prosecution by hiding behind their company. The trade unions also called for the role of union health and safety representatives to be strengthened and given far more recognition and support as they save lives and are not the costly burdens to business that the Tories would have us believe. They can and do help prevent employers having to face prosecution and compensation claims as well as protecting the workforce.
The event was given more gravitas as Marian Nemit, a 21 year old Romanian man, died following a construction incident in Leyton just over a week before. Waltham Forest Trades Council, to which UNISON in Waltham Forest is affiliated, have managed to give some advice to a cousin of Marian, resident in the UK which has been passed on to his family and helped raise the profile of the case in the media, notably on BBC TV News.
UNISON highlighted the ongoing prosecution of the London Borough of Waltham Forest for failing to manage asbestos and exposing workers to the killer dust – something UNISON safety reps have been trying to get the council to resolve for years. FBU reps remembered firefighters killed on duty and called for better control of substances at work as did UNISON. NUT reps said stress was endemic throughout teaching. The Bhopal tragedy was remembered with calls to keep supporting the medical appeal. Members of Raymond Holmes’ family were in attendance following the prosecution of Thames Water in relation to his death. The GMB called for better control of asbestos in workplaces, especially schools, and the systematic removal of all asbestos by 2032. A solicitor from Thompson’s backed this up with detail of their work pursing compensation claims for those with asbestos diseases, many of which are fatal.
A list of people killed at work in or near Waltham Forest was read out with a commitment to remember the dead – and fight for the living!
That list included:
Dan Flanagan died when a wall collapsed on him during the construction of what was then called Poll Tax House in March 1990.
Narvah Kallah, 30, known as Charlie, was electrocuted while working as a plumber at Cushions Galore, High Rd, Leytonstone on 3 December 2003.
Paul Jackson, 19, died after a fall in a drain inspection pit in Tavistock Avenue, Walthamstow while working for MTS Cleaning Services sub-contracting to Thames Water on 29 October 2006.
Andrezej Rokita, 55, from Poland, was killed by falling materials while working at M & M Contracting Ltd., Midland Rd. E10, on 22 March 2010.
Raymond Holmes a GMB member who died on 20 April 2010 on the Coppermill Thames Water site.
Alfie Perrin, 16, from Enfield, who died when he fell from a scaffold in Camden Rd, Wanstead on 14 November 2012.
Marian Nemit, 21, from Romania killed on a shop refurbishment site at the Bakers Arms, Leyton on 17 April 2015.
Visit our gallery to see more photos from the day