Hartlepool pays tribute on International Workers Memorial Day

MORE than 100 people attended a moving ceremony to remember those who have lost their lives at work.

Local union leaders vowed to keep up the fight to keep workers safe during Hartlepool’s annual International Workers Memorial Day service yesterday.

The MP for Hartlepool Iain Wright steps forward with his wreath

The MP for Hartlepool Iain Wright steps forward with his wreath

The service was even more moving this year as it heard from the family of 19-year-old Jason Burden.

Jason, from South Shields, was killed after a piece of machinery weighing almost a tonne fell on him in an accident at Sunderland’s Wear Dock, in December 2011.

His employers, Tyne Slipway and Engineering, were fined £75,000 for failing to protect Jason.

A video showing Jason living life to the full was played to the packed gathering before his dad Trevor Burden paid his own tribute.

Trevor, who earlier spoke to students at Hartlepool College of Further Education, fought back tears as he described Jason as “the perfect son”.

Trevor appealed to politicians and employers not to think of health and safety at work as a burden.

He added: “Jason was someone who lived his life to the absolute full.

“He had so much to live for and lost everything in a moment that could so easily have been avoided.”

Union representatives, who spoke at the service at Christ Church, in Church Square, say government cuts threaten to undermine health and safety in the workplace.

Edwin Jeffries, president of Hartlepool Trades Union Council, said: “As has been shown today in Hartlepool with our mix of speakers and contributors, it is only with enforceable and enforced legislation and employers working together with the trades unions to improve health and safety in all workplaces that we can ever hope to reduce the number of workplace accidents, injuries, diseases and deaths that, in the majority of cases, are avoidable.”

A minutes’ silence to killed workers was observed during the service.

Hartlepool MP Iain Wright, who is also Shadow Minister for Industry, spoke about the importance of safety at work.

Prayers were led by the Reverends Chris Collison and Rosalyn Hall.

Around 30 wreaths were laid in Church Square by civic dignitaries, different organisations and the public as part of the ceremony.