Workers more at risk as a result of coalition’s trivialisation of heath and safety

The NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union in the UK, is marking Workers’ Memorial Day today (Tuesday) by highlighting the continuing concerns about the Coalition Government’s approach to health and safety, in particular its failure to address the hidden killer in our schools-asbestos.

Since the Coalition came to office they have failed to take seriously health and safety concerns, have cut funding to the Health and Safety Executive, have failed to secure the compliance of employers with health and safety provisions and have consequently increased the risks to employees.

The theme for this year’s Workers’ Memorial Day is "removing exposure to hazardous substances in the workplace”.

The NASUWT has consistently called for greater action to be taken to protect school staff and pupils from exposure to asbestos. Data from the Health and Safety Executive and the Union’s own casework demonstrates that in too many schools statutory and good practice provisions relating to the management of asbestos are being flouted.

Workers’ Memorial Day is an international day of remembrance and action for workers killed, disabled, injured or made ill by their work. Rex Phillips, NASUWT National Official Wales, is among speakers at an event being organised today in Cardiff by Wales TUC to mark Workers’ Memorial Day.

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said:

“Trade unions have campaigned for years for the safety of workers in the workplace.

“Yet today there are now over two million workers suffering health problems relating to their work.

“In the last five years important regulations and legislative provisions have been trivialised by the Coalition Government, giving some employers licence to disregard the safety of their employees.

“Recent research shows too many schools ignoring health and safety provisions, putting pupils and staff at risk.

“This is an addition to too many pupils and staff being put at risk by the failure of the Coalition to tackle seriously asbestos in our schools.

“Workers’ Memorial Day is the opportunity to remember all of those people who have died needlessly as a result of a failure by employers to make their health, safety and welfare a priority.”

Notes to editors

Workers' Memorial Day is held on 28 April every year, all over the world workers and their representatives conduct events, demonstrations, vigils and a whole host of other activites to mark the day.

Wales TUC will be marking Workers’ Memorial Day at an event at 1 Cathedral Rd, Cardiff. Arrival is at 2.30 for a 3pm start.  Speakers will include Rex Philips, NASUWT, Julie Cook, Wales TUC and Carwyn Jones AM, First Minister of Wales. A wreath laying ceremony will follow the speeches. Media wishing to attend should contact

Lena Davies
Press & Media Officer
0121 457 6250/07867 392746