Workers Memorial Day 2019 – Sunday 28 April 2019 “Dangerous Substances – Get Them Out Of The Workplace”

Workers Memorial Day 2019 – Sunday 28 April 2019 “Dangerous Substances – Get Them Out Of The Workplace”

The ITUC have now confirmed the theme for the 2019 International Workers Memorial Day which is held on 28th April each year. The theme is “dangerous substances – get them out of the workplace”.

The focus will mainly be on carcinogens but Unions, Regions, Branches and Reps can adapt the theme to whatever is most relevant in the workplace or areas where members work and hazardous substances they may face, as many substances can also cause illnesses such as asthma or dermatitis.

Two important issues are of course Asbestos and Diesel Exhaust Fumes, and the TUC has useful guides on both of them and there is also a TUC guide on Workplace Cancers. (Copies are attached).

Other ideas suggested may be dust, cleaning fluids or other chemicals.

As Branches, Health and Safety Reps and Regional Health and Safety Forums will know, the Union has, in four of the last five years, commemorated Workers Memorial Day (WMD) at ‎ Annual Conference as WMD fell during Conference Week after the move of Conference to the end of April. This will occur again this year.

This year WMD occurs on the Sunday of the week, on General Conference day and arrangements are being made to commemorate WMD at Conference. Those Branch Reps and Officers not attending CWU Conference will be able to participate and support WMD events around the UK and will need to note this and make local arrangements to attend the many events taking place across the UK.

Once again the CWU will continue its support of this important commemorative day in the calendar and would urge CWU Branches, Reps and Regions to give their support to local and regional WMD events as above.

The purpose behind Workers’ Memorial Day has always been to “Remember the Dead and Fight for the Living” and the TUC, the Hazards Campaign, FACK and all the nation’s Unions will be focusing on both areas, by considering memorial and health and safety events to commemorate the day and remember all those killed at work or through work but at the same time ensuring that we continue to do all we can to make sure such tragedies are not repeated.

That can best be done by building trade union organisation, recruiting members, pressing employers to invoke better health and safety standards and risk controls and campaigning for stricter enforcement by the HSE and Local Authorities with higher court penalties for those employers and bosses breaching health and safety laws.

Workers Memorial Day is commemorated throughout the world and is officially recognised by the UK Government.

In 2019 the theme for the day is “dangerous substances – get them out of the workplace” and will focus on the risks to workers and the toll of occupational illnesses caused by exposure to toxic substances, fumes, dusts etc., inequalities in occupational health and the role Unions play in narrowing the gap.

The TUC is compiling a list of WMD events taking place across the country and the list will be updated over the coming weeks and circulated in due course. Some of these events will also feature a minute’s silence at noon, or a suitable time. Most will be on Sunday 28th April and some will take place on the weekend of 27th/28th April.

What CWU Reps can do:-

  • Find out what is happening in your area on 28 April. Check with other Unions, Local Authorities, local Trades Councils, Health and Safety Campaign Groups, Hazards Campaign, the TUC Website WMD page and a general website search for events and activities which can signpost Reps and members to events they may be unaware of.
  • Regional Health and Safety Forums may wish to organise their own event and activities on the day, for those not at CWU Conference, which can be a commemorative rally, a workplace meeting or just a small get-together and invite other Unions. Organise a minute’s silence in workplaces on the day.
  • Ask the local council, or any other public body, to fly official flags at half-mast on the day.
  • Remember that the day is officially recognised by the UK Government. That official recognition was given by Parliament under the Blair Labour Government.
  • Arrange an event such as planting a memorial tree in a public place, putting up a plaque, dedicating a sculpture, a piece of art, or a bench, to remember workers who have been killed at the workplace or in the community.
  • If those planning any events for the day want to raise awareness about Workers’ Memorial Day on 28 April, then it is important you consider how you can best use local media both before and on the day.
  • Ask local religious centres to include Workers Memorial Day in their worship on the day.
  • Distribute purple ‘forget-me-not’ ribbons, the symbol of Workers Memorial Day.
  • If those organising an event for Workers Memorial Day would like it displayed on the TUC dedicated WMD Webpage please email through the details to
  • For resources on Workers Memorial day including ribbons and car stickers please contact the Greater Manchester Hazards Centre at:


  • TUC Asbestos Guide
  • TUC Diesel Exhaust Fumes Guide
  • TUC Workplace Cancers Guide

Yours sincerely


Dave Joyce
National Health, Safety & Environment Officer

19LTB100 Workers Memorial Day – Sunday 28 April 2019 Dangerous Substances – Get Them Out Of The Workplace

Asbestos – time to get rid of it – Guide for reps May 2016 pdf_0


Occupational Cancer

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