A SERVICE was held yesterday (Friday) to pay respect to workers who have tragically lost their lives on the job.

Members of UNISON Clackmannanshire and elected representatives from Clacks Council came together to mark International Workers Memorial Day.

Maggie Nesbitt, joint trade union committee chair, welcomed guests and introduced the speeches.

At a short service at the memorial stone outside Kilncraigs, opening remarks were made by Kevin McIntyre, branch secretary for UNISON Clackmannanshire, who called for changes to be made to protect workers.

He said: “Every year at this time, we take a few minutes to remember those who have lost their lives or been made ill at work.

“We must constantly fight to ensure that this does not slip down the list of priorities, because it is the most important role that trade unions hold.

“What we want and urge all to fight for, is a situation where work-related injury, ill-health and death are seen as socially unacceptable in the same way that domestic violence and drink driving are now.”

Each year, a theme is chosen for International Workers Day, with the climate crisis and its role in workers health selected as the theme this year.

Kevin outlined the impact of climate crisis on workers in his speech, highlighting how mass floods and heat waves can restrict access to health care services.

He continued: “When we consider these risks to public health, we must also consider who will be on the front lines when it comes to dealing with the fall out from them.

“As we have seen during the Covid pandemic, it is public sector workers who put themselves in harm’s way and will do so again because it is our duty to do so.

“They accept that they are at higher risk because of it, but we demand that all employers mitigate those risks as much as possible and that they aid and help employees during their recovery when they are injured or become ill themselves.”

Further speeches were made by the Provost Donald Balsillie, Chris Alliston, strategic director and lastly Stephen McNeil, compliance officer.

Wreaths were then laid next to the memorial stone with a minute’s silence held in memory of those who have lost their lives at work.

Lastly, Fiona Jackson and Darren Booth, S2 and S3 pupils from Alva Academy, performed a closing tune on the bagpipes to round off the ceremony.

Speaking afterwards, Provost Balsillie hailed a “poignant” service and called on work to be done to improve the lives of workers.

He said: “It was a poignant service this morning to remember all those workers who have lost their lives or have been through ill health in the workplace and the impact that this has on their co-workers and families.

“It’s important that we do recognise International Workers Day and that the council recommits itself to do all it can to reduce work-related injury in the workplace.

“This year’s theme was climate change and Clackmannanshire has suffered a number of flooding events and this does place an additional burden, not just on our workforce but on the communities in terms of responding to the flooding and increased repair and pothole work.

“This in turn places an extra risk on employees in tackling these issues so this year’s theme of climate change was very poignant, not just on a world level, but also locally.”