A MEMORIAL day was held at the Coventry Cathedral ruins to honour the 4,000 workers per year who die in the UK due to asbestos related illnesses.
Trade unionists marked International Workers’ Memorial Day in the city with a 50-strong crowd gathering on Friday, April 26.
There were calls from activists for Coventry City Council to replace school buildings that were built using asbestos – and ensure tradespeople are protected from the poisonous material.
The annual ceremony, which has been conducted in the city for over 25 years, is held all over the world to highlight safety at work and remember those who have died in industrial accidents.
The congregation included many senior activists from unions, including Unison, Unite, UCU and the NEU.
City trade unionist and former Labour MP Dave Nellist – who is running in the forthcoming council election from Socialist Alternative on May 2 – joined deputy lord mayor Linda Bigham in paying tribute.
Dave Fisher, a senior solicitor at the legal firm Thompsons, spoke of the thousands of deaths caused each year in the UK as a result of deadly diseases that stem from the formerly extensively used building material.
He said: “The effects of asbestos can take anywhere between 15 and 40 years to develop.
“Many schools in Coventry are still using buildings where asbestos was used in their construction.
“Local authorities, in my view, should seek to demolish and replace infected buildings.”
Coventry Trades Union Congress branch organised the ceremony. President Jane Nellist said: “The event today pledged renewed efforts by trade unions and the community to improve health and safety standards at work.
“In times of economic crisis, this is even more crucial.”
At the end of the commemoration, wreaths were laid by union reps in tribute to those who have needlessly lost their lives in the line of their work.