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Calls have been made for a minute silence to be held on International Workers’ Memorial Day to honour and remember nurses and other key workers who have died under the Covid-19 pandemic.
Those behind the move have urged the country to partake in a “respectful silence” on the annual memorial day on Tuesday, 28 April at 11am, specifically for those who died during the coronavirus outbreak.
“The silence is a simple show of respect for those who have paid the very highest price”
International Worker’s Memorial Day is held every year to commemorate those who have lost their lives at work or from work-related injury and diseases.
Unions the Royal College of Nursing, the Royal College of Midwives and Unison want a minute silence to be held this year to pay respect and give thanks for the lives of those whose work involved caring for people or keeping services running or the country safe during the pandemic.
General secretary and chief executive of the RCN, Dame Donna Kinnair, said she hoped the public would get behind the initiative in the same way that they had for the “clap for carers” movement.
“We’ve become used to hearing a great roar on a Thursday night for key workers, but this respectful silence will be a poignant reminder of the risks they run to keep us safe,” she said.
“I hope the public gets behind this with the same affection they show when applauding our people.
“The silence is a simple show of respect for those who have paid the very highest price, but their loved ones must know the levels of gratitude we feel as a nation and take some comfort from that.”
RCM chief executive and general secretary Gill Walton said the college was proud to join the other unions in the campaign to “recognise and remember those who we have lost”.
“This year has a special significance because of the pandemic”
“We had expected 2020 to be a celebration of the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife but, although we actively applaud their service, this is not what we had imagined,” she added.
“Instead, across the country, midwives and maternity support workers are seeing the impact of coronavirus not only on the women in their care, but on their colleagues as well.”
In addition, Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said the minute’s silence would be the “ultimate tribute” to remember those who had died.
“Every year the sacrifice of workers around the world is recognised, but this year has a special significance because of the pandemic,” he said.
“Thousands of key staff are on the frontline while the rest of us are in lockdown.
“That’s why we’ve issued this call for the whole country to take part and remember the sacrifices they’ve made.”
He said the silence would be a “thank you to all the workers including nurses, midwives, cleaners and care staff who’ve died from this devastating virus”.