Workers at the ASDA distribution centre in Bedford held a number of activities to commemorate International Workers’ Memorial Day 2016 (IWMD) including the unveiling of a picnic area.
GMB A36 Branch has held events each year to mark IWMD on April 28 since the trade union branch was organised at the Kempston site.
IWMD is a day to remember the hundreds of thousands of workers who are killed each year by work. It is also a day when trade unions and other safety campaign groups renew their commitment to fight for the living.
To commemorate IWMD 2016, GMB workplace organisers have been working closely with the site to raise money for the East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA).
On Thursday, April 28, a joint funded Workers’ Memorial Picnic area with a barbeque was opened for workers at the site. The area was open on the day by a member from the EAAA who also gave a short presentation on the work the charity does, followed by the unveiling of a commemorative plaque.
Justin Openshaw, branch president, said: “My son was involved in a very serious accident 18 months ago in Bedford and suffered life threatening injuries. He survived due to the swift response from the EAAA who airlifted him to Addenbrooke’s Hospital and saved his life. It’s only right I do all I can to support this charity.”
Andre Marques, GMB A36 Branch Secretary, said: “The depot is situated on the busy A421 and there have been a number of serious accidents on this stretch of road recently which have required the services of the EAAA. Money we raise will help fund the huge cost needed to run the EAAA and the lifesaving services it provides.”
Mick Lancaster, GMB Officer said: “Through the hard work of the ASDA/GMB safety committee the depot has recently achieved over 100 days RIDDOR free (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations). This shows what can be achieved through strong industrial relations between GMB and ASDA, with both parties firmly committed to improving health and safety
standards for all that work at the ASDA Bedford Distribution Centre.
“I lost a close family member in 2015 through a workplace accident and Workers’ Memorial Day is a great opportunity to recognize the great work that is achieved when big business like ASDA recognize and work with trade unions like GMB.
“However it is important that we take time to reflect on the workers who are killed each year simply by going to work.”
Sarah Suess, Area Compliance Manager for ASDA said: “It’s very positive to have a GMB Steward Committee who are so passionate about health and safety. The fact that the depot has gone 100 days RIDDOR free is a testament to the hard work that goes on here at Bedford to drive health and safety standards.”
Paul Mackay, ASDA Bedford General Manager, said: “Workers’ Memorial Day ties in nicely with the fund raising we are doing for EAAA. So far the depot has raised well over a thousand pounds. We have raised money through an organised BBQ and Easter raffle. The workforce has come together and given generously. It’s been a great effort by everyone to support an essential service that relies on donations and I’m proud to be part of it.”