Trade unions worldwide marked workers’ memorial day this Monday April 28, with a range of activities commemorating those killed at work and aiming to prevent such tragedies happening again.
Unions in Bangladesh began their commemoration of the day on 24 April, the first anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster. Workers at the factory observed cracks in the walls on 23 April 2013, and the building was evacuated. Despite this, they were ordered back into work the following day, and more than 1,100 of them died when the building then collapsed.
Unions in Brazil, Congo, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Senegal, Timor Leste, Togo and Zimbabwe highlighted the role that proper occupational health and safety, and strong unions, can play in keeping workers safe from such accidents.
Elsewhere, unions used the day to mark the role legislation can play in preventing accidents at work. Unions in Australia and Canada called on ministers to uphold and improve existing safety laws. Unions in the UK echoed this cry, highlighting the impact of government cuts on putting safety law into practice. Guatemalan unions held a rally, urging the government to reform and enforce its own health and safety laws.
Unions in the Philippines campaigned around HIV/AIDS in the workplace, fighting discrimination against those living with the illness.
ITF president and MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said: “Far too many workers are still dying in preventable accidents. On workers’ memorial day we come together not just to remember the dead, but to fight for the living – and ITF workers around the world are always ready to stand alongside other workers in danger.”