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International Workers Memorial Day – remember the dead, fight for the living

International Workers Memorial day is an annual event held on 28 April. It’s a day when workers come together to remember those who have been killed or injured at work.

Although fatal accidents at work are thankfully rare, HSE statistics still reported that 137 people were killed while going about their daily job during 2016/17.

Sadly, it’s becoming increasingly likely that we will all know of someone who was killed at work, seriously injured, or who is suffering from an occupational disease, such as asbestosis.

The Memorial Day is a time to remember those that have died and a time to fight for the living.

While the Trade Unions are fighting hard to improve workplace safety, lawyers are fighting just as hard to improve the financial support available for the bereaved.

APIL – The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, has for some time been campaigning to have the compensation structure changed so that grieving relatives are properly compensated, regardless of their relationship to the deceased.

It’s quite staggering that as the law currently stands, unmarried partners and stepchildren are not able to claim compensation if their loved one is killed at work.  Neither are single dads (in the case of children under 18), grandparents, brothers or sisters.

Even where a loved one is eligible to claim, in England and Wales they are only legally entitled to a fixed sum of £12,980 – barely enough to cover the funeral costs and immediate expenses.

APIL say’s this is a “cruel oversight” in the law – a law that is no longer fit for purpose in today’s modern society.

Diane Parker, head of personal Injury at Atherton Godfrey, commented: “As lawyers, we work hard to make sure that victims are properly compensated. Tragically, in the case of bereavement, this is not always possible; our hands are tied by the paltry amount that is legally available.

It would be much fairer to adopt the Scottish system, where judges are able to look at individual cases and are free to decide the level of damages and who they should be awarded to.”

Memorial events will be held throughout the UK on Saturday 28 April. There will be a remembrance service in Doncaster at 11.30am in Sir Nigel Gresley Square, by the Civic Offices.

Wreaths will be laid and confirmed speakers include Cllr Nigel Ball, Cllr Lani Ball, Rev. David Stevens (Doncaster Minster), Colin Ellis (SARAG), and Bernard McAulay (UNiTE National Officer for Construction).

Author: Gail Harris


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