WORKERS’ Memorial Day was marked with an event in Keighley.

A small gathering of campaigners took part.

The socially-distanced event – beside the memorial garden in Town Hall Square – was organised by Keighley Trades Union Council, in conjunction with the town council.

Keighley’s town chaplain, the Rev Dr Jonathan Pritchard, officiated and opened proceedings with a number of readings.

He called for “courage and perseverance” to succeed in the struggle for social justice, not just in the UK but globally.

The Rev Pritchard also made reference to the “five bad words” – ‘health and safety gone mad’ – emphasising how ill-thought-out the phrase was.

His message was supported by Janet Morgan, of the Trades Union Council.

She added it had “taken a pandemic to end the constant agenda of ‘health and safety gone mad and it being an unnecessary burden on business’.”

But she said Covid was not classed as a reportable disease under existing health and safety law.

“Whilst there have been more than 23,000 complaints over inadequate safety in the workplace to prevent infection there have only been 41 notices served by the Health & Safety Executive on employers – which led to two prohibition notices being served,” she said.

She also highlighted a “refusal” to improve statutory sick pay to enable workers to self-isolate if they were infected, so reducing the spread of infection.

“Unbelievably many workers in the new ‘gig’ economy do not actually earn enough to reach the income threshold to qualify for any sick pay,” she said.

Mohsin Hussain – who lost his father, Councillor Abid Hussain, to Covid-19 late last year – was a guest speaker at the event.

He said it was a poignant moment for him.

Mr Hussain said he had “nothing but praise for our wonderful NHS”.

But he added: “The pandemic has highlighted the disgraceful inequalities in British society, with the highest death levels being in the poorest parts of the country and amongst the BAME communities.”

Keighley Trades Union Council said it believed “a decade of cost-cutting in basic services” had left the country unprepared to face the pandemic, with inadequate PPE for health workers just one aspect.

Secretary Dave Towers said: “Across the world at the moment, a health worker is dying every 30 minutes through inadequate PPE due to similar lack of preparation.

“Words are important and when reports from India talk of ‘people dying and left in the street’ we must remember that these ‘bodies’ are in fact people with names and bereaved relatives and friends who will mourn their loss for many years.

“Keighley Trades Union Council will continue to ‘remember the dead and fight for the living’ on Workers’ Memorial Day every year.”

Workers’ Memorial Day is marked annually, on April 28, by the trade union movement across the world.

Those who have lost their lives at work, or from work-related injuries or diseases, are remembered and efforts renewed to prevent further deaths.