April 28: International Workers’ Memorial Day

On 28 April, International Commemoration Day for Dead and Injured Workers, trade union events around the world will underline the vital role that unions play in protecting workers from work-related accidents and disease. More than 2.5 million workers lost their lives to workplace injuries and illness in 2017, with many more deaths going unrecorded.

“Worldwide, poor working conditions kill a worker every 11 seconds. All these deaths are avoidable, yet the body count is increasing. Unions, and laws which are effective and enforced, provide vital protection to workers, and with labour laws being weakened and workers’ right to organise being undermined in every region of the world, it is little surprise that the death toll is so high. That is why global unions are launching a reinvigorated and urgent organising campaign to demand safety, justice and accountability,” said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

This year, unions will also be focusing on the scourge of occupational cancer, which is responsible for a large proportion of the 2.4 million deaths due to occupational disease annually. More than 10 per cent of cancer cases are a result of workplace exposure to hazards.

“Cancer caused by work is a major killer, and where workers are not allowed to organise and governments fail to regulate effectively and ensure compliance, the risks skyrocket. There are too many examples like the case of Samsung in Korea, which has used ‘trade secrets’ as a way to hide the toxicity of chemicals which production line workers have to use,” said Burrow.

The union movement is also calling for occupational health and safety to be recognised as one of the Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work of the International Labour Organization, alongside existing fundamental standards on forced labour, child labour, discrimination at work and freedom of association and the right to collectively bargain.

For more information, see: http://28april.org/