Memorial day for workers

Elwick Parish Councillor Hilary Thompson. Picture by FRANK REID
Elwick Parish Councillor Hilary Thompson. Picture by FRANK REID

PLANS for a poignant service to remember people killed at work have been endorsed by civic chiefs.

The Workers Memorial Day is a chance for bereaved family members, council officials and trade union representatives to come together and lay wreaths in honour of those who have lost their lives in the work place.

It has been held at Hartlepool’s Tourist Information Centre and Art Gallery, in Church Square, every year since 1999.

Organised by the Hartlepool Joint Trades Union Committee, this year’s event will take place on Saturday, April 28, at 12.30pm.

The laying of the wreaths will follow at the Workers Memorial, in Church Square.

A lone Scottish piper will be playing in Church Square ahead of the ceremony, which will see Hartlepool MP Iain Wright give a reading prior to the wreath laying ceremony.

Invited guests will include Ronnie Draper, general secretary of Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU), Tim Bush, regional co-ordinating officer of UNITE, Vicky Wanless, associate and senior solicitor at Bromwell Smith & Co solicitors and Paul Mackney, former general secretary of the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE).

Leader of the council, Councillor Carl Richardson, will also be at the ceremony along with other civic leaders and trade union members.

Ahead of the memorial service there will be a health and safety training seminar held at the Hartlepool College of Further Education, in Stockton Street.

Edwin Jeffries, joint branch secretary of UNISON Hartlepool, said: “This is now the premier event in the North-East region and it has received national recognition.

“We hope to improve health and safety across the region and that is what this day is all about.”

The themes for this year’s event include “public sector cuts and the impact on health and safety”.

Independent councillor Hilary Thompson, portfolio holder for performance, gave her backing to the plans at a recent meeting.

Coun Thompson said: “By drawing attention to employees that have lost their lives or been injured in the workplace we can support the fight for improvements in health and safety.

“It is appropriate to link the seminar on the morning of the service.

“I fully support that and I thank you for the report.”

Coun Thompson gave her backing to:

l The local authority holding a minute’s silence in council buildings at 12.30pm on Saturday, April 28.

l The lowering of flags on public buildings on the same day.

l The local authority allowing the sale of the Workers Memorial Day Remembrance forget-me-not purple ribbons on council premises to staff and public.

Coun Thompson, who also backed plans to help promote the event, was also told of a Tree of Remembrance inside the Hartlepool College of Further Education, in Stockton Street.

There will be a memorial service for students held on Friday, April 27.