Crowds fall silent to remember the dead in Sheffield on Workers' Memorial Day

Wreaths laid outside Sheffield Town Hall in memory of dead workers
Wreaths laid outside Sheffield Town Hall in memory of dead workers
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A minute's silence was today held in Sheffield for workers who have died doing their jobs, as union leaders vowed to continue to fight for better protection.

Sheffield's lord mayor Anne Murphy was among those who laid wreaths outside Sheffield Town Hall to honour the dead on Workers' Memorial Day.

Sheffield's lord Mayor Anne Murphy told how her family had suffered the effects of poor working conditions

Sheffield's lord Mayor Anne Murphy told how her family had suffered the effects of poor working conditions

She told how the occasion, organised by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) was particularly poignant for her, as her loved ones had been affected by poor working conditions.

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"My family have suffered from various ailments over the years as a result of working and they've had to fight, and the unions have fought on their behalf, to get compensation for the injuries they have suffered," she told those gathered.

GMB regional secretary Neil Derrick told those gathered how official figures say 137 people died at work last year but the true number is closer to 1,500, while another 50,000 people died last year of work-related illnesses.

He described how just yesterday the 'Protect the Protectors' bill, introducing tougher sentences for those who assault members of the emergency services, had been approved by MPs.

GMB regional secretary Neil Derrick address the crowds in Sheffield on Workers' Memorial Day

GMB regional secretary Neil Derrick address the crowds in Sheffield on Workers' Memorial Day

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This legislation, he said, was directly linked to work by Sarah Kelly, a Yorkshire Ambulance Service paramedic who was sexually assaulted 18 months ago by a patient in the back of an ambulance.

"Today's the day we remember the dead and fight for the living," he added.

Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield said it was more important now than ever to stand up for workers' rights, to ensure they are not watered down once the UK leaves the EU.

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"Workers rights are under threat at the moment in a way they haven't been for some time," he added.

Paul Blomfield MP said it was important to keep fighting for workers' rights

Paul Blomfield MP said it was important to keep fighting for workers' rights

Paula Walker, of the South Yorkshire Asbestos Victims Support Group (SARAG), told how a worker dies every five hours from asbestos-related disease and it had last year helped more than 260 people to get the compensation and benefits to which they are entitled.

She said asbestos didn't pose a threat just to members of the industrial workforce, pointing out how a nursery worker had died aged only 51 after being exposed while pinning children's work to a board made from the toxic substance.

"More than 83 per cent of our schools contain asbestos and we're calling for it to be removed from every one of those schools within the next decade," she said.