The UK’s national trade union federation TUC has created a dedicated 2019 Workers’ Memorial Day webpage, which will list all events being held on the day.
The 2019 theme for International Workers’ Memorial Day will be: “Dangerous substances – get them out of the workplace”. The focus will be mainly on carcinogens but unions can adapt the theme to whatever is most relevant in a particular workplace or area, as many substances can also cause illnesses such as asthma or dermatitis.
When it comes to cancer risks caused by substances at work, asbestos and diesel exhaust are high profile issues for many workers at the moment – and the TUC has prepared detailed asbestos, diesel exhaust, and workplace cancers guides to help reps negotiate improvements.
On construction sites in San Ramón BWI affiliate UNATROPYT held health, safety and security meetings to mark International Workers’ Memorial Day.
The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) federation reported events from all over the U.S. and around the globe, 2018 was another amazing Workers’ Memorial Week.
Check out their blog at NationalCOSH.org for a wrap-up of just a few of the vigils, memorials, rallies and other events that took place in churches, synagogues, City Council chambers and other locations from Maine to California – and many points in between.
BWI’s UK affiliate Unite produced a comprehensive list of its International Workers’ Memorial Day actions.
To mark International Workers’ Memorial Day CFMEU asked workers to take a photo of empty pairs of work boots and share it on social media with the hashtags #IWMD #PutYourBootsOut. BWI affiliates CFMEU and ETU also called on their members to attend the many ACTU commemorations that took place around the country.
Some trade unionists present at a 28 April forum told the ‘Business Times’ (BT) that the Labour Department is one place infested with bribery and corruption where decisions against the workers could be manipulated.
During the discussion, Leon Joseph, Secretary, National Free Trade Union pointed out that in one incident there were 350 workers taken to hospital, 100 were treated in-house, three were treated in the intensive care and one died.
The medical officer who held the post-mortem on the death of the worker ruled that the death was due to natural causes, but when the family of the worker protested and a second post-mortem was held, a completely different verdict was returned.
This shows the extent of corruption and even such professionals like medical officers could be influenced. Mr Joseph said that most of the employers do not want to reveal these accidents and in many instances they try to hide them as they are usually caused due to their negligence.
More: The Sunday Times Sri Lanka
BWI affiliate The Greek Federation of Workers and Employees in Cement Industry (OETYTE) sent a message to LafargeHolcim management calling for safer work (below).
General union 3F and workplace health campaign group AAA highlight workplace risks from heavy lifting and stress. Activities took place in both Copenhagen and Elsinore. The union says around 2,000 workers every year die as a result of their working conditions.
Source: Janne Hansen, 3F
In his 28 April message Irakli Petriashvili, President of the Georgian Trade Unions Confederation, notes:
“Since the abolition of the labour inspection in 2006, the number of accidents has increased significantly in the workplace. According to the data of the Georgian Trade Unions Confederation (GTUC), in the period from 2007 to 2018, as a result of occupational incidents, 473 persons died and 806 people were seriously injured. The highest rate of fatal cases is in construction and mining industries.”
Read more • GTUC website
Workplace safety NGO Institute for Occupational Health and Safety Development (IOHSAD) held a candle lighting activity in Zambales province to mark Workers’ Memorial Day and remember all the Hanjin workers who died due to work since the largest shipyard company started its operations in the country in 2006.
This annual red-letter day is aimed to gather workers in different parts of the world to remember all workers who have died due to work. IOHSAD slammed the government’s failure to ensure safe workplaces and pass a pro-worker occupational safety and health (OSH) bill amid recent workplace tragedies such as the NCCC mall fire in Davao last December 2017 that claimed the lives of 38 workers.
“This government’s track record of broken promises includes its failure to pass a pro-worker OSH Bill. Ending contractualization and ensuring safer workplaces are not in President Duterte’s priorities,” says Nadia De Leon, IOHSAD advocacy officer.
IOHSAD said the commemoration of this year’s Workers’ Memorial Day is more significant as the Filipino workers prepare for a huge and historic mobilization on May 1.
“Contractual workers do not only suffer from insecure jobs but they also handle the most hazardous work. Their stories reveal how they are deprived of necessary medical attention during emergencies at work. They even shell out from their pockets to provide for their own personal protective equipment such as goggles, safety shoes and ear plugs,” added De Leon.
Majority of the workers who died in the Kentex factory fire three years ago, were contractual and agency workers. This workplace tragedy exposed not only the employers’ grave violations of safety standards that caused the workers’ deaths but also the miserable plight of contractual workers. They were overworked, underpaid and exposed to unsafe work. These deplorable working conditions and precarious work claimed the lives of more than 72 Kentex workers.
“Our call for safe workplaces is part of the Filipino workers demand to end contractualization. Regular jobs, decent wages and strong unions are the workers’ most reliable shields against deadly and unsafe work,” ended De Leon.