This week I wanted to use my column to pay tribute to our key workers, who have been an incredible source of strength and inspiration through this difficult past year.
Their bravery and tireless hard work has kept our city and country going through the pandemic.
Friday 28 April marked International Workers Memorial Day (IWMD) which is an annual event to commemorate workers who are killed at work.
This year, I particularly thought about the key workers who have lost their lives on the frontline in the fight against covid-19.
We will forever owe them a debt of gratitude and we also owe it to them to make workplaces safer.
Every year, more people are killed at work than in wars. Most of them don’t die of mystery ailments, or in freak accidents. They die because an employer decided their safety just wasn’t a priority.
International Workers Memorial Day provides a time to pause to reflect and remember those workers, and the theme this year was timely – health and safety is a fundamental workers’ right.
The pandemic exposed an occupational health crisis in workplaces worldwide, where some workers are routinely denied even basic health and safety protections.
These include consultation with safety reps on “covid-safe” policies and practices, free access to personal protective equipment (PPE) and protection from victimisation for raising health and safety concerns.
These same problems existed before the pandemic and resulted in millions of deaths each year from work-related injuries and diseases.
The pandemic demonstrates why health and safety must be a right for everyone who works.
Whether it is covid or occupational cancers, or workplace injuries and industrial diseases, every worker should have a right to a voice and a right to protection. No one should have to die to make a living.
If there is a lesson from this past year, it is that our key workers don’t just deserve our gratitude. They deserve the right to be paid fairly, to have job security and for safety to be a priority in their place of work.
Councillor Nancy Platts is the leader of the Labour opposition on Brighton and Hove City Council.
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