Workplace dead are remembered in Northgate

Blackburn Citizen: At the memorial ceremony  are, from left, Alan McShane, leading rep UCU Health and Safety Blackburn College, Ian Callagher, secretary of Blackburn and District Union Council, and John Murphy, president of Blackburn and District Union Council At the memorial ceremony are, from left, Alan McShane, leading rep UCU Health and Safety Blackburn College, Ian Callagher, secretary of Blackburn and District Union Council, and John Murphy, president of Blackburn and District Union Council

INDUSTRIAL workers who have died, or fallen ill, in the work-place in, and around, Blackburn were remembered at an annual ceremony yesterday.

The Blackburn and District Trade Union Council held the event in Northgate, eight years after a memorial tree was planted on the site.

Speakers from local trade unions, the anti-blacklisting campaign, and former MEP Michael Hindley, spoke to the crowd, before a two-minute silence was observed and a ‘forget-me-not’ wreath was laid by the tree.

The event was staged to coincide with International Workers Memorial Day, which was started in Canada in the 1970s.

According to the Health and Safety Executive annual statistics report 2012/13, there were 78,222 non-fatal injuries in the workplace across the country during that period.

John Murphy, who has been president of the Blackburn and District Trade Union Council for 12 years, said: “This is about trying to commemorate the people who have died at work.

“We fight to protect workers and to keep health and safety regulations in place.

“I think there is a culture shift in that people expect health and safety regulations to protect them, which wasn’t the case when I started work.

“We are frightened that the country is going back to the Victorian era when workers’ lives were seen as cheap.”

Mr Hindley, a former MEP for the North West, said: “If we ever forget where we came from, then we would lose track of where we are going.

“The trade union movement has been battered over recent years.”

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