Today, Tuesday 28 April 2020 marks International Workers’ Memorial Day. Each year at this time we remember those who have lost their lives at work, or from work-related injury or disease.
Normally, on the Saturday closest to Workers’ Memorial Day, East Ayrshire Council would gather with colleagues from the Kilmarnock and Loudoun Trades Union Council at the memorial garden in Dean Castle Country Park, Kilmarnock, to pay their respects to all those who have tragically died at work, and to pause for quiet reflection.
This, of course, is not a normal year. Coronavirus has cast a dark shadow across many parts of the world and this virus is taking the lives of many people in our communities, as well as the lives of many workers delivering vital services in sectors such as health, social care, food retail and transportation.
Councillor Douglas Reid, Leader of East Ayrshire Council, said:
“Covid-19 has enforced restrictions on personal movements, gatherings and events, but this will not deter us from acknowledging the significance of Workers’ Memorial Day. Given where we are now, at this moment in our lifetime, there simply could not be a more appropriate time to mark the importance of this day than now.
“As we remember those who have lost their lives at work, we also reflect on those key workers who are continuing to provide vital services in the face of a global pandemic, which is unprecedented in recent memory.
“Collectively, we believe that no employee should go to work and be put at unnecessary risk due to unsafe working practices, poor safety control measures or a lack of vital equipment necessary to protect workers from harm. It is the basic right of a worker to go home safe and well at the end of the working day and we both endorse this without exception.
“We would ask everyone on this Workers’ Memorial Day to please take a moment to reflect on the sacrifice made by all workers who have died or suffered from illness or disease caused by work.”
Councillor Tom Cook, Leader of East Ayrshire Conservative Group said:
“This year this event has greater poignancy and significance as we pay tribute to those who have died at work. Sadly, this is almost a daily occurrence, as over the last six weeks we have been receiving news of key workers who have lost their lives while fighting COVID-19, and by taking time to reflect, we are demonstrating our shared commitment to keeping employees safe in the workplace.
Councillor John McGhee, Leader of East Ayrshire Labour Group said:
“Event or no event, what matters more than ever this time round is that we all take a moment to reflect and remember colleagues who lost their lives at work, and to acknowledge those who continue to put themselves at risk in the battle against this pandemic. Collectively, we are fully committed to keeping our workers safe.”
Arthur West, Secretary of Kilmarnock and Loudoun Trades Union Council said:
"One of the main aims of Workers Memorial Day is to remember workers who have been killed or injured in the course of their work .
"The other main aim is to give Trades Unions and public and private sector organisations an opportunity to renew their commitment to health and safety in the workplace .
"It is therefore very appropriate that on Workers Memorial Day this year we remember those workers who have lost their lives due to Covid -19 . We should also express our solidarity and support to workers and communities as they respond to the difficult situation we currently find ourselves in."
The lights at Kilmarnock railway viaduct will be lit up purple on Tuesday evening.