Tag Archives: #iwmd20

Italy: Keep your distance, but don’t be distant. Solidarity forever – FILCA CISL

Keep your distance, but don’t be distant. Solidarity forever.

A beautiful message from our FILCA CISL sisters and brothers.#BWI2020IWMD

UK: A moment of silence is the very least that we can do – Unison

Blog: A moment of silence is the very least that we can do

by Dave Prentis, Genreal Secretary, Unison

… the nation will fall silent at 11am to honour and remember all of the health, care and other key workers who have lost their lives to coronavirus.

It’s an opportunity for us all to take a moment to pay our respects and give thanks to for the lives of those who saved lives, kept key services running and the rest of the country safe. It’s also a further opportunity to show our love to their families, and to remind everyone of the real danger that key workers are placing themselves in to keep our country going and our communities safe.

Our union has been leading the calls for this commemoration which takes place on International Workers Memorial Day. Every year, this is an important date for our union – but never more so than this year. The risk of death should never be something which any of us have to consider as part of our working lives, but for too many workers that is the ongoing reality of the fight against COVID-19.So while we pay our respects to those who have lost their lives, we continue to fight for better protection at work for everyone who needs it – whether those at risk during the current crisis, or any worker whose life is put at risk by their working conditions.

This virus has had a profound impact on all of our lives, but there are clearly those who are particularly affected. This virus has had a disproportionate impact on older people, Black communities and those with prior health conditions. It has also had a huge impact on those whose vital work means they cannot stay at home, including so many UNISON members – taking care of our loved ones, educating our children, keeping our streets safe or making sure that vital food and supplies are delivered – who are putting themselves at risk to protect us all.

Every minute this pandemic continues, people are making extraordinary sacrifices to keep us safe and run our vital services.

That’s why we’ve issued this call for the whole country to take part and remember the sacrifices key workers have made. So wherever you are – at home or at work – please join us in a moment of silence at 11am tomorrow. To say thank you. To remember. To show our solidarity. To remember the dead, but also on International Workers Memorial Day, to fight for the living.

After all that key workers have already given to us all throughout this crisis, it is the very least that we can do.

Blog: A moment of silence is the very least that we can do | General secretary’s blog, News | News | UNISON National

India: Statement from PTRC, Gujarat, for 28 April

Read the statement from PTRC, Gujarat, for 28 April

28 April, International Workers Memorial Day

Why do workers meet premature death?

Workers don’t work to die, provide them adequate protection.

Today is 28 April, IWMD. We remember those who died during the year in accidents at work or of occupational diseases and dedicate ourselves to fight for the living.

As per ILO estimates 2.3 million workers die each year in which 2.1 million die of different occupational disease and 0.2 in accidents at work. It amounts to 6000 deaths each day. Another 340 million injure themselves in accidents and 160 million get sick due to work.

We do not have official data of occupational diseases either for the country or for the state of Gujarat, though diagnosis of ODs might be done here and there. During the last year 13 workers died of silicosis from among those community with whom we work. That includes 7 from ceramic units in Than, 3 from sculptures in Dhrangadhra, 1 from tile factory in Morbi and 2 from Rajkot. Average age was 43. Among 13, one was female and rest male workers.

All these met with premature deaths because their health was not the priority for their owners or the Government. This does not seem to be priority of the Government of Gujarat either. In 2017 National Human Rights Commission recommended the State to formulate comprehensive policy for the rehabilitation and welfare of the workers suffering from Silicosis but State Government has not taken any action yet. Rajasthan and Haryana have set good example by formulating such policy for their states.

7 workers died in a fire in Chiripal Textile in Ahmedabad on 8 February, 2020. Before that 6 workers died in accident in P.I.Industires in Sarod on 6 January, 2020. Another 6 died in explosion in Aims Oxygen, Gavasad in Vadodara on 11 January, 2020. 4 workers died in Chemshell explosion in Makarpura industrial area in Vadodara on 21 October 2019. Production manager died in November ,19 in gas leak in Vakson life in Ankaleshwar. 19 worker died in 3 incidents took place during January-February of this year.

Most accidents that take place in factories are preventable. Factory Act provides elaborate provisions to prevent accidents. If enforced, that will help reduce accidents. But looking at the above data it can be seen that the fatal accidents are on increase. Impact of failure of employers and Governments in providing safer and healthier workplace fall not only on the families of the individual workers but also deeply on the economy of the country. Productivity goes down. At present many sanctioned posts of inspectors in labour department are lying vacant. It is the responsibility of the State to fill up the vacant positions. On the other hand, under “ease of doing business” policy for inspection has been changed. In violation of the Contract Labour (Abolition and Regulation) Act workers are appointed through contractors in manufacturing and there is no control over their working hours. State has stopped filing complaints for violation of provisions for working hours in the Act since last so many years. By amending the provisions limit of overtime hours has been raised. Enforcement of provision to file return in Form 24 under Sec.107 of the Gujarat Factory Rules is so weak that we do not get correct data. Consistent decrease in Notifiable accidents seen in official data is nothing but under reporting. As the industry is interested in posing their better image unfortunately, State, too is interested. Well, we can understand this interest but it is no good to use half truths to build image.

Record of the State in fatal accidents is no good. To keep the data on lower side they play tricks like legal and non-legal still according to the data published by National Crime Records Bureau for the fatal accidents in 2016, Gujarat stood second after Delhi. From 2013 to 2018 989 workers died in fatal accidents in Gujarat. In 2018 218 workers died till November and for the same period in 2019, 168 workers died.. In 2018 there were  32192 working and registered units in the State which employed 1.725 million workers. 263 workers died in that year as per official data. This amounts to rate of 15.23 per 100,000 workers employed. In 2017 this rate for European Union was 1.65 (https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics‐explained/index.php/Accidents_at_work_statistics). Comparing this rate with that of Gujarat indicate, we have a long way to go in providing safer workplace to our workers.

It is observed that the complaints filed by the State for the violation of provisions of Factory Act are under Sec. 92 only but no complaints are filed under Sec.96-A. After Bhopal gas tragedy the Act was amended to make more stringent provisions for violations but State is  not taking any advantage of this amendment and that is how industry is not only shown leniency but they are encouraged to violate the provisions.

In factories workers come in contact with the materials they handle which adversely affect their health and thousands suffer from cancer, lung diseases, skin diseases, noise induced deafness and so on. But we do not have reliable data on these. With great pain we have to take note that the Certifying Surgeons and Factory Medical Officers have utterly failed. The private practitioners who diagnose these diseases do not notify them either because many of them do not know the provisions and State is not interested.

As per the report of Comptroller and Auditor General  (CAG) it is the policy of the State to not to take any legal action against the violator for fatal accident if the employer pays ex-gratia compensation (over and above the legal compensation) to the victim and if they don’t pay ex-gratia amount, take action up to closer.  It is complete illegal not to file complaint though the unit has violated the law. It is unacceptable to allow manufacturing by keeping worker’s life at bay. Life of any worker is invaluable but State is not interested in saving their life. Please the victim family by paying little more to keep them shut. Workers don’t come to factory to die. This policy is  cruel joke of human dignity and human rights. We condemn this policy and in wider interests of the workers demand-

  1. There is urgent need to protect health care workers engaged in COVID-19. To monitor health care services provided by private sector Central Government enacted Clinical Establishment Act, 2010 should be accepted by the State. 11 states have already implemented it, why not Gujarat?
  2. Fame comprehensive policy for rehabilitation and welfare of silicosis patients as recommended by National Human Rights Commission in 2017.
  3. Sanction posts of inspectors as per ILO standards for the registered factories under Factory Act. Numbers should be reviewed each year.
  4. Fill up vacant posts of inspectors. Provide them adequate training.
  5. Improve the quality of the working of the inspectors by providing them training and monitoring their work. Arrange online system to control corruption. As per news reports State has come up with mobile apps called “SACHET” and “SIMPLE.” We welcome this action and hope that it will help better monitoring.
  6. File complaints for the violation of the provisions of the Act. Allocate adequate number of legal officers in the department. Justice system should be such that long time is not wasted in getting justice. Do not transfer complaints of fatal accidents in Lok Adalat. It should be remembered that the complaints filed under Factory Act are of criminal nature and its seriousness should be understood. Review them regularly. File complaints under Sec.96-A.
  7. Give prosecution powers under Factory Act to the workers, labour NGOs and trade unions. Partner with workers, trade unions and labour NGOs in enforcement.
  8. Organize programs for awareness and popularize provision of notification of occupational diseases among the public and private medical practitioners.
  9. Provide legal protection to the Factory Medical officers and monitor their work.
  10. Publish all the data, annual reports, inquiry reports, court orders, circulars and other material for the people to access online.
  11. State is empowered to amend the list of Sch.III of the the Employees Compensation Act. Amend the list to include Musculoskeletal diseases and diseases caused by Polyacrylate.
  12. Appoint qualified industrial hygienists in Ind. Hygiene Laboratory, provide them equipment and give them powers.
  13. Give powers to notify the accidents and occupational diseases to the workers, trade unions and labour NGOs.

PTRC Contact: Jagdish PatelWebsite

Plus: Read the news story 13 workers died of silicosis in Gujarat in 16 months


Global: PSI statement on Workers’ Memorial Day [Video]

Continue reading Global: PSI statement on Workers’ Memorial Day [Video]

Global: Workers’ Memorial Day Message from UNI GS Christy Hoffman | UNI Global Union

UNI General Secretary Christy Hoffman has issued an International Workers’ Memorial Day message calling on us to honour the workers we have lost during the Covid-19 crisis, but to “fight like hell for the living.”

Using her personal experience and examples from UNI affiliates, GS Hoffman stresses the importance that unions play in establishing safe workplaces and holding employers accountable:

There are valuable lessons we must learn from this crisis.

And one that we must remember is the difference a union can make in terms of health and safety. And it is not only about negotiating the conditions of safe work — it is about representation and a voice on the job lead by rank and file workers. A union health and safety committee is a watchdog, making sure that employers don’t cut corners or require a pace of production that is too fast to be safe. They enable workers, those who are closest to the problem, to expose the hazards and recommend solutions.

Read the full message here. 

Additionally, UNI is joining the ITUC and other global unions in calling on governments and occupational health and safety bodies around the world to recognise Covid-19 first, as an occupational hazard and also an occupational disease.


Global: ITUC survey shows gaps in provison of PPE and safe work conditions

ITUC Global COVID-19 Survey: Global gaps in adequate provision of PPE and preparation of safe workplaces to protect workers from spread of Covid-19 in spotlight

As lockdowns are eased in some countries with partial re-openings of workplaces, government and employer preparations to protect workers from Covid-19 as they return to work are in the spotlight. Trade unions from just one in five (21%) countries would rate the measures that are in place to protect workers from the spread of the virus at work as good. Most (54% or 58 countries) would rate these protections as fair. Twenty-six countries (24%) would rate the protections as poor.


The findings in the third ITUC Global Covid-19 Survey of 148 trade unions from 107 countries, including 17 G20 countries and 35 OECD countries carried out between 20th April – 23 April 2020 show the gaps in access to safe workplaces and global concerns on the provision of personal protective equipment for health and care workers.

“Preparing workers to return to work safely in consultation with unions is a critical next step in the response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Workers need official recognition of Covid-19 as an occupational disease and governments to require reporting and recording of work-related cases, as well as compensation schemes and medical care for victims for work-related Covid-19 and for their bereaved families. Governments in Australia, Denmark, Germany and Malaysia are showing the way – others must follow.

Globally, occupational health and safety must be included by the International Labour Organization as a fundamental right with global standards to protect workers,” said Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation.

Almost one in five countries (17%) say they are undertaking partial re-opening of workplaces, businesses and community spaces.

Of the 19 countries planning a partial or full re-opening:

  • Just five rate the protections in place for workers as good.
  • Six rate the protections in place as poor.
  • Eight would rate the protections as fair.

In the Americas 44% of countries say measures for safe workplace are poor, and in Africa 41% of countries say workplace safety is poor. Only 25% of countries in Europe rate measures to protect workers from the spread of the virus as good.

While many countries continue to respond to high levels of infections and deaths, shortages of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for health and care workers is a serious issue in the majority of countries.

Under half (49%) of countries said that they always or very often have adequate supplies of PPE available for all health workers and care workers responding to the virus. Fifty-one per cent of countries said PPE supplies are sometimes, rarely or never adequate, exposing the risks faced by millions of frontline health and care workers responding to the pandemic.

“Frontline workers including health and care workers are putting their lives on the line to care for Covid-19 patients. The failures to supply enough PPE for workers puts workers, patients and communities at risk and has led to lawsuits by in the US by the New York Nurses Association. On International Workers Memorial Day we remember all those wh have died at work or from work-related diseases and we pledge to fight for the living. Workers must have secure supplies of PPE, and the G20 has a responsibility to ensure trade flows of PPE are not restricted and that prices are stabalised, ” said Sharan Burrow.

The ITUC Global Covid-19 Survey, which includes tracking data from countries which responded in the week of 20th April – 23 April found:

  • The majority of countries (61%) are containing the spread of the virus with national lockdown measures including the closure of schools and non-essential businesses.
  • Most (54% or 58 countries) believe their government is responding quite well, while just 12% (13 countries) believe their government is responding very well.
  • Thirty-four per cent (36 countries) believe that their government is responding badly. This includes 27 (25%) that believe they are responding badly and 9 (8%) that believe they are responding very badly.
  • Just over half (51% or 55 countries) believe that employers are responding badly to the needs of workers. Nine countries (or 8%) believe that employers are responding very badly.

“In many countries the struggle will be to keep the meaures governments have put in place for income and wage protection, while in many countries the struggle to achieve guarantees of decent work with jobs, income and social protection has just deepened. Social dialogue between unions, governments and employers is critical. The world cannot go back to business as usual – recovery plans must ensure a socially just future,” said Sharan Burrow.

Read the Third ITUC Global Covid-19 Survey Key Findings.


USA: Día en Memoria de Trabajadorxs Fallecidxs (Spanish Resources) – National COSH

As we observe Workers’ Memorial Day, we’d like to share these Spanish language resources from National COSH, to help in remembering those who have become ill, injured or lost their lives at work.

This year, we are spotlighting employers who have failed to take proper steps to protect against the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, as well as other preventable hazards across a range of industries and occupations.

The Executive Summary of our Dirty Dozen 2020 —  Special Coronavirus Edition report is available here:


The Dirty Dozen press release is here:


Our social media toolkit, with sharable badges and infographics in both English and Spanish, is available here:


This year, we’ve added a Dirty Dozen video.  You can find it here.


Thanks so much for all your help, and for all you are doing to protect workers during this difficult time.

Jessica and Marianela

for the National COSH Team

Jessica E. Martinez, MPH

Co-Executive Director

National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (COSH)



Europe: Commission must rethink ‘astonishing’ omission of workers’ health and safety from work programme | ETUC

The ETUC is using Workers Memorial Day to appeal again to the European Commission to prioritize workplace health and safety in its plans for the next five years in light of the coronavirus crisis.

Trade unions first raised the alarm last September when occupational health and safety was omitted from Ursula von der Leyen’s political guidelines, pointing out that every year there are 4,000 fatal accidents at work and 120,000 people die of work-related cancer.

Despite that, the Commission continued to overlook this matter of life or death when it published its work programme for 2019 to 2024 in January.

The ETUC is now writing again to the Commission President to urge her to reassess her priorities in light of the coronavirus crisis, which has been responsible for hundreds of deaths at work.

In a separate letter sent to Nicholas Schmit, the European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, today the ETUC and its affiliates have called on him to ensure Covid-19 is recognised as an occupational disease.

Our appeals come on Workers Memorial Day, the international day of remembrance for those who have lost their lives at work which is routinely observed by the European Commission.

The ETUC is calling on the European Commission to:

  • Include a plan for zero workplace deaths and the elimination of work-related cancer to its work programme for 2020.
  • Add Covid-19 to the EU directive on the protection of workers from risks related to exposure to biological agents to ensure the most effective and strict prevention measures
  • Enlarge the scope of the recommendation concerning the European schedule of occupational diseases to cover all professions exposed to Covid-19 at a higher level than for the general population
  • Enforce existing legislation in member states after a dramatic drop in workplace inspections in many countries

ETUC Deputy General Secretary Per Hilmersson said:

“The omission of health and safety from the European Commission’s agenda was astonishing before the crisis considering there are still 4,000 fatal accidents at work and 120,000 people dying of work-related cancer every year.

“In light of recent events, it would be grossly negligent to keep turning a blind eye to this matter of life and death.

“Yet workplace health and safety is still not given the importance it deserves in the Commission’s roadmap towards lifting Covid-19 containment measures. The exit strategy needs to have a hazard-based approach, with proper prevention measures put in place before we can return to work.

““It is high time for Ursula von der Leyen and her team to prioritize occupational health and safety, of which there was no mention in her political guidelines when elected Commission President and of which is still no mention in the recently leaked Commission work programme.”

Global: International Workers Memorial Day 2020 and COVID-19 – mourn for the dead and fight for the living

Education International (EI)

International Workers’ Memorial Day on occupational health and safety, observed the 28th of April every year. The international day was born in 1996 to mourn those who had died on the job and to fight for the living. It has spread to all continents of the world.

On this day, EI mourns all workers, but especially education workers, who have died at work and in the line of duty. We also will fight for their health and lives in the present and for the future.

COVID-19 is a pandemic that is lethal on a large scale. For those in direct contact with others, including many working in education, it is an occupational health and safety challenge. Some deaths, with proper precautions and protections, could have been avoided.

Although in our sectors, many are tele-working or on leave, this will change with the opening of schools. Already, opening dates have been announced in several countries. With re-opening, in addition to the ongoing public health danger to all, exposure at the workplace will become a major, perhaps the major risk.
COVID-19 and other infectious diseases contracted at work, should be recognised. They should be given the same treatment, including compensation, as other occupational diseases.

Every situation is different. In countries where great progress has been made and where tests and protective devices are widely available, reopening may be relatively safe. However, even in those situations, there may be a risk of unleashing a second wave.

Regardless of circumstances, even though more information is becoming available, what is not known about this virus remains more important than what we know. It is another reason that re-opening must be careful and methodical.

Social distancing, a crucial element of the combat against COVID-19, under the best of circumstances, will be difficult in schools and, in some cases, may be impossible. Hallways and staircases in many schools before the pandemic were already too narrow to easily accommodate normal traffic.

For small children, social distancing is bizarre behaviour and hard to understand. Even for older students, it may be difficult to respect due to limits of space, but also because of the normal rush of school life; getting from one class to another, to lunch and leaving at the end of the day. That means that social distancing will require considerable logistical and cultural changes.

To make school reopening as safe as possible, a number of factors need to be taken into consideration. They include whether there has been a significant decline in the general risk, the existence of widespread testing and monitoring, the availability of protective devices, regular disinfection, and modifications of physical arrangements and measures such as staggered classes and reduced class sizes. Such protections will be especially challenging in countries with limited possibilities to provide those protections and weak public health systems.

Workers in education, particularly teachers, are often older than the larger population because it has been hard, in recent years, to recruit new talent. That means that teachers may be especially vulnerable to infection. Education personnel, particularly from high-risk groups, should not be required to go back to school. They should be permitted to continue to work from home or make other arrangements.

Work-related stress has become a major issue for teachers in many countries as has been documented by the recent OECD TALIS report. Existing stress factors in education will be aggravated by fear of contamination during re-opening and, perhaps, for months to come.

In some countries where school re-opening has been scheduled, there have been consultations and/or negotiations with education trade unions on the details of occupational health and safety protections. Often, they are the same countries, with strong social dialogue traditions, where there were already discussions of closures.

However, the EI survey of member organisations on COVID-19 showed that the governments that acted correctly at that time were exceptional. Reopening decisions are neither urgent nor abrupt. They are planned. Trade unions should be fully involved in reopening planning and decisions.

David Edwards, Education International General Secretary stated: “For growing numbers of workers in education and other sectors, the worksite will become the greatest source of risk for COVID-19. There is no excuse for not involving the representatives of workers, their trade unions, in reopening decisions and ongoing occupational health and safety vigilance. It is the health and lives of those workers that are most at stake.”

“The reopening of schools can be a massive risk for teachers and other education workers. Every effort should be made to ensure that risks are reduced to the minimum through best practices based on science, not politics, and anchored in cooperation and social dialogue.”

“COVID-19 may be a natural disaster, but avoidable illness and death is human failure. International Workers’ Memorial Day is, in this dark year, not only a way to recognise those who have already sacrificed, but to chart a path that restores trust and hope and gives us a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel.”

The Statement of the Council of Global Unions on the recognition of COVID-19 as an occupational disease, released on the occasion of International Workers Memorial Day 2020, is also available here


South Africa: We mourn the loss of life for workers all around the world – COSATU

We mourn the loss of life for workers all around the world who have lost their lives at work. #COVIDー19 is a workplace related disease and we want occupational health and safety to become a fundamental right” Sharan Burrow,ITUC General Secretary #IWMD20 ?bit.ly/2SdSpzH