Union of Grief

I received an e-mail this morning informing me that at 12 noon, I would be observing a two-minute silence in memory of all those people who had died in their workplace. Not only that, but I would be remembering those who have “been seriously injured or made ill through their work.” Yeah, hankies out. I wracked my brains trying to think of someone I knew who had fallen into a recycling crusher, broken a finger, or at the very least, scalded themselves on the hot tap in the kitchen. Not a sausage. So instead, I sat there idly staring into space for two minutes, occasionally bowing my head in faux reverence.

There was something extremely unsavoury about the whole concept, I thought. I mean, why this? Why not Hideously Malformed Puppy Day, or Brits Falsely Imprisoned in Thai Jails Day? So I used the second of the two minutes to covertly Google ‘Workers’ Memorial Day’. As with most things, there was a reason behind it all.

The day marks the anniversary of the Occupational Health and Safety Act of 1970 in the USA, and also that of an industrial accident in Connecticut in which 28 people were killed on a building site. Since the 90s, trade unions have used the date as a historical reference point and a basis from which to lobby governments on health and safety issues. The day was formally recognised by the UK goverment last year, to the extent that someone saw fit to rob me of two minutes of my lunch break so I could solemnly acknowledge the deaths of people who failed to read safety instructions, the suicidal speculative bankers who lost everything and the people who didn’t quite die, but whose £120 a week incapacity benefit softens the blow somewhat.

Of course, people die at work due to systemic failures, and it’s incredibly sad when it happens, but we should do our grieving at the time of the event and, if we so wish, on future anniversaries. I am not part of the political process that underpins these tragedies, and resent being encouraged to grieve in order to further the agenda of political lobbyists, not to mention the fact that the queue at Subway is snaking round the block with every second that I spend staring blankly at my screen. Knowing my luck, it’ll be closed by the time I get there because a member of staff has been electrocuted by the toasting machine.


0 Responses to “Union of Grief”

  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 5 other followers



%d bloggers like this: