‘Failure to protect workers’ should be at heart of COVID inquiry, campaigners say
A public inquiry into coronavirus should focus on what could have been done to prevent the deaths of workers, campaigners have urged.
The TUC and the COVID Bereaved Families for Justice group said the government should show “integrity and transparency” over the inquiry process.
It comes as workers around the world marked International Workers’ Memorial Day in memory of those who died from work-related illnesses or injuries.
The TUC said more than 15,000 people of working age died during the pandemic, many of whom were key workers in high-risk workplaces in health, social care, transport, food processing and textiles.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “We’ll forever be in the debt of the workers who kept the country going during the pandemic – nurses, carers, bus drivers, factory workers and so many more.
“Far too many were exposed to the virus at work – and lost their lives as a consequence.
“Now the government owes it to them, and to their families, to make sure the public inquiry investigates what should have been done to keep everyone safe at work.”
Hannah Brady, spokesperson for COVID-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, said: “My Dad tragically passed away from COVID-19 in May 2020. He was just 55 years old, lived an active life and had no underlying health conditions. He was proud to work at the Kraft Heinz factory, keeping the UK fed, but that meant that like tens of thousands of key workers around the country, he did not have the option of staying home during lockdown.
“People have said to us that he knew the risks. But when he signed up for his job 34 years ago, he didn’t foresee the pandemic. Key workers were at the mercy of the virus in jobs where they had to work. The government’s failure to protect them must be at the heart of the inquiry.”