Workers Memorial Day on 28 April is an opportunity to Remember the Dead and Fight for the Living. Events are held nationally and regionally with North East Lincolnshire amongst the best organised and attended. Much of that is due to the hard work of Unite member Herbert ‘Nobby’ Styles, who until he was made redundant in December 2013 worked for Blue Star Fibres (formerly Courtaulds) in Grimsby as a process operator for 37 years and during which time he performed many union roles.
In 2002 he was inspired when he spotted an article in Hazards Magazine urging trade unionists to organise a Workers Memorial Day (WMD) event. Funds were raised to get memorial stones laid and trees planted in Immingham, Grimsby and Cleethorpes and the first services were held at each on 28 April 2003.
On 28 April 2014 the twelfth NE Lincolnshire WMD saw services again held at each of the three locations. Wreaths were laid by, amongst others, families who have lost loved ones, a minutes’ silence was held and speakers highlighted the continuing unacceptable loss of life. Each year, over 1,400 people are killed at work in the UK and another 50,000 die of workplace related cancer, heart and lung disease. Worldwide, 2.3 million people are annually killed by work, a figure that exceeds those killed by war.
“We remember those killed at work and those who die from industrial diseases and illnesses. There is an ongoing legacy with asbestos and some chemicals that continue to kill workers. MPs, MEPs and local councillors are involved along with families and campaigners like myself,” said Nobby. The events are well reported in the local press.
“We cannot lose sight of the fact that it is trade unions that have done the most to improve health and safety at work. By being union organised then its possible to work together with companies to ensure workplaces are safe,” said Nobby, who has rightly won a number of awards for his considerable efforts in ensuring North East Lincolnshire is at the forefront of the growing number of WMD events being held annually across the UK.
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