Government asked to back minute’s silence to honour all workers who have died from coronavirus

Dave Prentis writes to Dominic Raab asking him to support campaign

The government is being asked by UNISON to give formal backing to a minute’s silence next Tuesday (28 April) to remember all health, care and other key workers who have lost their lives to coronavirus.

The union along with the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Midwives – who between them represent more than a million NHS and public service workers including porters, refuse collectors and care staff – launched a campaign this week for the nation to take a moment to honour frontline staff who have died during the Covid-19 crisis.

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis has now written to Foreign Secretary and First Secretary of State Dominic Raab urging the government to back the tribute, which takes place at 11am on International Workers’ Memorial Day.

In his letter, Mr Prentis highlights how the deaths of ‘selfless’ health and social care workers on the frontline are a national ‘tragedy’.

He says: “Health and social care workers on the frontline across the country are losing their lives to coronavirus. This is a tragedy for their families, friends, colleagues and for the nation.

“We would like the government to endorse this tribute formally and publicly. This is in order that our entire country can take a moment to honour the selfless workers who have been taken from us too soon in protecting our citizens and caring for others.”

Organisations including the TUC, USDAW and the NASUWT are already on board with the campaign, and Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has said the one-minute silence is ‘a very good idea.’

UNISON – which represents more than a million NHS and public service workers, including porters, refuse collectors and care staff – is also asking employers, people at work and those on lockdown at home to pay their respects by joining the silence.

This will allow everyone to give thanks for the lives of those whose work involved caring, saving lives, keeping key services running and the rest of the country safe, says UNISON. The tribute is also a show of support for the families of those who have died.

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