Australia: Remember the dead, fight like hell for the living – ACTU – #iwmd23

Every year on April 28, the trade union movement unites around the world to mark International Workers’ Memorial Day. We mourn those who have died at work or because of their work, and we fight like hell for the living.

We welcome the extension of Industrial Manslaughter laws that will hold negligent and reckless employers to account. These new laws mean negligent employers can be punished with substantial fines and imprisonment. With the Federal and South Australian Governments now committed to introducing these laws, it is only in Tasmania that employers will not be held to account.

We also take today to mourn; we mourn the 36 workers who have lost their lives to workplace incidents so far this year and remember the thousands who will lose their life through occupational diseases.

We take time to think of the Australian workers who have been devastated by the impacts of the deadly dust released from working with engineered stone, with the shocking revelations that as many as one in four stonemasons who work with engineered stone products have contracted silicosis.

The threat of asbestos is also still with is. Australia has one of the highest measured incidence rates of mesothelioma in the world: between 700 and 800 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year. On average, two people are diagnosed with mesothelioma in Australia each day.

For these reasons, and many more, unions will continue to fight for improved health and safety laws and better enforcement.

Quotes attributable to ACTU Assistant Secretary Liam O’Brien:

“On 28 April 2023 our message is simple: every worker has the right to a safe and healthy working environment and every employer must ensure they eliminate risks at work.

“Employers who cut corners that result in the death of a worker should face serious consequences, including jail. Industrial manslaughter laws must be introduced in every state and territory.

“Silicosis is a debilitating, incurable and sometimes fatal disease. With as many as one in 4 stonemasons working with engineered stone contracting silicosis we must move quickly to ban the use of this deadly product. There are many safe alternatives – no one should die for a fashion item.