Government urged to back minute’s silence to remember key workers

The Government is being urged to formally back a minute's silence next week to remember all health, care and other key workers who have lost their lives to coronavirus.

Unison, the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Midwives launched a campaign earlier this week for the nation to take a moment to honour frontline staff who have died from Covid-19.

Between them, the three organisations represent more than a million NHS and public service workers, including porters, refuse collectors and care staff.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis has written to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab urging the Government to back the tribute. The moment of silence will be held at 11am next Tuesday (April 28), which is International Workers' Memorial Day.

In his letter, Mr Prentis said the deaths of "selfless" health and social care workers on the frontline are a "national tragedy".

He said: "Health and social care workers on the front line across the countryare losing their lives to coronavirus."

Mr Prentis added that he would like the Government to endorse the 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," he said.

Unison is also asking employers, people at work and those on lockdown at home to pay their respects by joining the silence.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has said he's looking into formal government backing of the tribute.

Earlier the week, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said he regarded proposals for a time of national reflection to be a "very good idea" and that his department was "looking into it".

He told BBC Breakfast on Monday (April 20): "Actually, as Culture Secretary, I have responsibility for ceremonials and things like minute-silences, and we are actively looking into that and think it is a good idea."

More than 80 frontline NHS workers are confirmed to have died during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "I think ministers have said that it is something that we think is a good idea and that we want to support."

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