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