The International Workers’ Memorial Day is observed globally on 28 April every year. The day has been organized worldwide by the trade union movement since 1996. Its purpose is to remembers workers killed in incidents at work or by diseases caused by work and honour the victims of occupational accidents and diseases by organizing worldwide mobilizations and awareness campaigns on this date.
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Theme for International Workers’ Memorial Day:
The theme for International Workers’ Memorial Day 2020: Coronavirus. The coronavirus pandemic affects every worker no matter sector or locality. 10 thousands of workers worldwide have died. More have fallen ill or still attend work risking their lives. Many workers are still attending work ill-equipped and without necessary safety measures in place .
We couldn’t have a starker reminder of the important role of trade union health and safety reps in saving and protecting workers’ lives, than the present crisis we are living through. While we might not be ready to attend the memorial events which usually happen on IWMD, as public gatherings round the world aren’t advised or allowed; there are some ways union members can participate in our collective day of remembrance and solidarity.
History of Workers’ Memorial Day:
During the 1950’s an organization was established that stood to unite the Labor Unions in a single unified goal. The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) was established in 1955, comprised of union organizations from many different nations. There have been two organizations, the AFL and therefore the CIO that came together to make this organization with the aim of representing workers everywhere the world in creating a secure workplace.
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In 1989, the AFL-CIO declared April 28 “Workers’ Memorial Day” to honor the hundreds of thousands of working people killed and injured on the job every year. April 28 is the anniversary of the date the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 went into effect, and when the Occupational Safety and Health Administration was formed (April 28, 1971).
Previously, in 1984, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) established a day of mourning. The Canadian Labour Congress declared an annual day of remembrance in 1985 on April 28, which is that the anniversary of a comprehensive Workers’ Compensation Act (refer to the entry Workplace Safety & Insurance Board), passed in 1914. In 1991, the Canadian parliament passed an Act respecting a National Day of Mourning for persons killed or injured within the workplace, making April 28 a politician Workers’ Mourning Day. The day has been organized worldwide by the trade union movement since 1996.