Global: Global construction union BWI publishes briefing, advice and multilingual posters

Sunday 28th April is International Workers Memorial Day 2019, and Trade Unions all over the world are organising rallies and protest marches to reject dangerous working conditions in the building and timber trades.

Activities will take place from the Tuesday 23rd of April to Sunday 28th.

We know more than ever about hazards at work and all the measures and laws to prevent occupational deaths, injuries and ill health; yet, more than one hundred thousand building workers still die each year in entirely preventable “accidents” on site. Meanwhile, two million tons of chrysotile asbestos is being put into the built environment every year – guaranteeing a deadly legacy for building workers and the public. Workers in our sectors suffer daily exposure to hazardous and cancer-causing chemical products, like pesticides and organic solvents. But they are also exposed to hazardous dust, like asbestos, or silica, and dangerous processes exposing them to diesel or welding fumes.

Forestry is still notoriously dangerous, despite some improvements in standards on paper, the positive impact is undermined by the reliance of the industry on informal and subcontracting work to boost their profits.

The cement industry remains highly hazardous and accounts for hundreds of deaths in worksite accidents, and thousands of occupational diseases each year. The heavy use of outsourcing is largely responsible for the lack of coherent management of hazards at work, with almost all fatal accidents occurring among contracted and third-party workers. Precarious work in the sector is costing peoples’ lives.

The impact of bad working conditions takes its toll on the health of workers in all sectors BWI represent, from cement and brickmaking to wood processing and site labouring. The Trade Unions including BWI affiliates are ready, willing and able to help – but informal employment, subcontracting, union busting, and exploitative labour practices are undermining our efforts. That is why BWI affiliates are taking to the streets in protest for the week leading up to the 28th of April, International Workers Memorial Day.”

 IWMD 2019 Posters are available English, Spanish, Portuguese RussianFrench Swedish and Arabic.

Take action for International Workers Memorial Day!

What you can do:

  • Hold tool-box safety and health trainings at the work site.
  • Conduct safety and health work-site visits and inspections.
  • Coordinate mass rallies and demonstrations in front of companies to protest their unsafe working conditions and poor safety records.
  • Hold vigils and commemorations for those who lost their lives or were injured.
  • Lobby for a ban on asbestos.
  • all for the removal of dangerous substances from the workplace to eliminate exposure to carcinogens in the work place
  • Spread your activities via social media using the #IWMD2019 @BWIGlobal

UK: Retail workers’ union briefing and leaflet

Workers’ Memorial Day is held on 28 April every year, all over the world workers and their representatives conduct events, demonstrations, vigils and a whole host of other activities to mark  the day.

Workers’ Memorial Day is the day when the International Labour Movement remembers those who have been killed or injured in workplace accidents and those who have died from occupational diseases. The event started in North America in 1986 and has been supported by Usdaw since 1995. The Day is now a global event and is officially recognised by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and by the International Trade Union Movement (ITUC).

What can you do for Workers’ Memorial Day?

Dangerous substances – get them out of the workplace

For more information on Workers’ Memorial Day, see the TUC website.

  • Workers’ Memorial Day (Leaflet)

More details

Holland: FNV takes on work toxics and cancer risks on Workers’ Memorial Day

Dutch union FNV has been very much involved in various actions that have built up pressure on employers such as a municipality, national railroad company (NS) and the airline KLM, which in the future might prevent more victims from the use of Chrome VI, a cause of occupational cancers. FNV will this year also celebrate Workers’ Memorial Day on the 28th of April in Rotterdam with special attention for toxic substances at work.

Related information (in Dutch).

Australia: Queensland Unions International Workers’ Memorial Day 2019

By Ros McLennan, General Secretary, Queensland Council of Unions

International Workers’ Memorial Day (Sunday 28 April 2019) is a time to remember workers who have died, become ill or injured because of work and a chance to renew focus on preventing further fatalities, illness or injury at work.

The most effective way to keep workers safe is to promote secure jobs and give people access to their union representatives at work. That is why we need to change the rules: to deliver jobs workers can count on. We need jobs that deliver the confidence for workers to stand up and speak out when safety at work is at risk.

Unions and their members have fought for and won most of the laws that make employers do the right thing. These protections—hard won by unions—have seen the number of workplace deaths reduce by half in the past 15  years. However, even one worker dying is one too many.

In 2018, the preliminary data show there were 157 Australian workers killed at work, compared with 190 workers in 2017.

In Queensland, the Office of Industrial Relations reports that from March 2018 to February 2019 there were 39 confirmed work-related fatalities reported in Queensland, with 15 more deaths being investigated.

With 30 Australian workers already killed to date (21 March) this year, unions will always campaign for safer workplace practices and laws—especially as the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison LNP government has done all in its power to game the system against workers and their representatives.

For example, the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) and the Registered Organisations Commission (ROC) have a terrible record of acting in the interests of big business or the LNP Government.

The ABCC hasn’t prosecuted one, single employer for a workplace death or injury. But it did try to ban the Eureka Flag. And it has threatened many workers with criminal charges just for standing up for safety at work.

At the same time, the LNP Government abolished the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal that protected truck drivers from being forced to the edge of safe driving and beyond. Hundreds have been killed in truck-related deaths since it was abolished and vehicle deaths remain the number one killer at work in Australia.

Employers have a duty of care to provide safe workplaces. However, we know some employers will cut corners—even when workers’ lives are at risk.

The best thing any worker and their workmates can do to keep safe at work is to stand up and speak out. But workers need to know their jobs are safe and they are protected when they come up against the power of an employer who doesn’t want to do the right thing.

Worker safety is under attack from many sides: bosses who promote insecure work—for example, labour hire, sham contracting, casualisation and underemployment; laws that increase the power of employers to intimidate, bully and threaten workers; and laws which curtail the rights of unions to protect their members. These attacks are designed to stop even the most courageous worker speaking out when their lives—or their workmates’—are at risk.

This is why changing the rules is so important to workplace health and safety.  We must promote secure work. We must allow unions to protect their members by ensuring ready access to union officials at work and enabling workers to take industrial action when their safety is at risk.

We must hold negligent bosses who operate unsafe workplaces accountable with strong industrial manslaughter laws.

Queensland Unions helps workers suffering from work-related injuries by operating three services for the benefit of Queensland workers.

The Workers’ Compensation Information Service (ph 1800 102 166) is a free service for workers, unions and community organisations who are navigating Queensland’s workers’ compensation system. (You can find more information at )

The QCU has also just launched a new independent support service to help Queenslanders experiencing work-related psychological injury.

The Workers’ Psychological Support Service is a free and confidential service  available to any Queensland worker experiencing work-related psychological injury to connect them with appropriate assistance in existing community agencies (ph 1800 370 732 or visit the website at for more information).

Statistics show police, teachers, health workers, fire fighters and defence personnel suffer the highest rates of work-related mental illness.

This service demonstrates the union movement’s commitment to the ongoing physical and mental health of workers, and their families, and ensuring those in need receive the right help.

The Workplace Health & Safety Representative Support Service is another new service that provides workplace health and safety representatives with the resources, training, and information they need to properly protect their workmates. This service stems from a critical recommendation in the Tim Lyons review into Workplace Health and Safety Queensland following the Dreamworld amusement park deaths.

The Review said there was clear evidence of the important role Health and Safety representatives (HSRs) play in improving and maintaining safety within the workplace.

We now have in place a state health and safety coordinator to ensure as many workplaces as possible have HSRs and to support HSRs to fulfil their role. Contact for more information.

These initiatives demonstrate that we will not rest until every Queenslander comes home safe after day at work.

We know the fight is never won as long as one worker is injured. Every year unions and members hold a day of remembrance for workers who have died, been injured, or become ill because of their jobs.

This year, International Workers’ Memorial Day is Sunday, 28 April 2019.

We gather to mourn the deaths, injuries and illnesses that have occurred and vow to do everything we can to prevent any more.

We encourage workplaces to hold moments of silence to commemorate the workers who have fallen, or suffered illness, and work together to improve safety in their workplace.

International Workers Memorial Day is marked throughout the world. In countries where workers are unorganised, they have fewer protections and workplace deaths are at chronic levels.

2.3 million women and men around the world are killed by work-related accidents and injuries every year—or 6,000 deaths every day.

We can see right now, in the deaths of workers across the world what happens when big business has too much power and puts profits ahead of people. The is why we must change the rules for workplace health and safety.

Global: ITUC call to action for International Workers’ Memorial Day, 28 April 2019

April Call to Action

On April 28th, Workers’ Memorial Day, ITUC will organise under the theme, Taking control – removing dangerous workplace substances from the workplace. This year ITUC will focus on Zero Cancer, with a new poster showing risk factors for cancers at work.

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Remember the dead, fight like hell for the living