Minute’s silence in honour of frontline workers

A minute’s silence will be held at 11am tomorrow (Tuesday, April 28) in honour of all the frontline workers who have died during the coronavirus epidemic.

By Neil McGrory, Local Democracy Reporter
Monday, 27th April 2020, 2:10 pm
Updated Monday, 27th April 2020, 2:51 pm
There will be added poignancy for this year's International Workers' Memorial Day as more than 100 frontline workers have died during the pandemic
There will be added poignancy for this year's International Workers' Memorial Day as more than 100 frontline workers have died during the pandemic

The 28th is International Workers’ Day and trade unions are calling on the government and other employers to prioritise safety and avoid further preventable deaths.

More than 100 key workers across the UK have lost their lives during the crisis, including four Scots – Janice Graham, Jane Murphy and Kirsty Jones, as well as a fourth who has not been named. Transport workers have also died.

The Scottish Government is to observe the silence and purple lights will be displayed at St Andrews House as an additional sign of respect. Councils will make similar gestures with illuminations or lowering flags to half mast.

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The Royal College of Nursing is also participating. Chief executive Dame Donna Kinnair said: “This moment will bring together a sombre but grateful nation. Whether in nursing or driving buses, our heroes kept going to work when many had the luxury of staying at home. Nobody should go out to work and risk their life.

“This must not be the last time that sacrifice is recognised. The country and its leaders owes a tremendous debt to these key workers and the many more who are on shift again today.”

The Scottish Trade Unions Congress will hold an online ceremony at 10.30am on the day before observing the silence. Speakers will include STUC president Jackson Cullinane and representatives from Unison and GMB which have many thousands of key workers in their membership.

STUC General Secretary Rozanne Foyer says: “Every year we mark International Workers’ Memorial Day in recognition of the those who die in the course of their work and the impact this has on their families and loved ones. Many of these outcomes are preventable with proper health and safety practices.

 “Of course, this year there is an added poignancy, as we know that many more people will have lost their lives through exposure to the coronavirus while delivering key services.  We know that over 100 health and social care workers have lost their lives across the UK.  We suspect that the actual figure is considerable higher.  We have also tragically lost health, care and other key workers in Scotland.

 “On this day, we do not just remember the dead, we resolve to organise to protect the living. We still concerned at the lack of PPE on the front-line and that we are so far behind some other countries in terms of testing for key workers, their families and the wider public.

 “We have been alarmed by suggestions in some quarters that we might quickly get back normal. Now is absolutely not the time to let up in the fight to keep our workplaces safe, to maintain lock down in non-essential workplaces, provide proper PPE and testing and to ensure that profit does not come ahead of protecting our workers.”