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Remember the dead, fight for the living

news 24 Apr 2024

Taking place annually around the world on 28 April, Workers’ Memorial Day (or International Commemoration Day for Dead and Injured as it is also known) is an international day of remembrance and action for workers killed, disabled, injured, or made unwell by their work.

The recent growth in app-based delivery riders has seen some employers pushing workers to not take breaks, to work in dangerous weather conditions. One rider died last week in Spain, the rider’s identity is still not known. This is one example of automated decision-making putting workers at risk.

Stephen Cotton, ITF General Secretary said “Workers’ Memorial Day should not still have to exist in 2024. Workers should be able to work in safe conditions without risking their health, their safety or their lives. If laws or regulations exist, and in many countries they don’t, they are often not enforced. 

“Transport can be a dangerous industry to work in, but transport workers are experts in their sector. They know what needs to be done to do their job of work safely, the clothing and equipment needed, the training and time that it takes to work safely.

“Deaths and injuries are too often caused by employers cutting corners and sacrificing workers in order to make more profits. Trade unions are essential in making sure that workers’ voice are heard and listened to.

“It is trade unions that will fight to ensure that corporate greed doesn’t turn back the clock on our hard-won rights and protections. Union membership is essential in the fight for Occupational Safety and Health, and international solidarity is essential in giving every union member the support needed to make that happen. 

“I look forward to a time where we are able to consign this day to history, but until then ITF stands in solidarity to remember the dead and fight for the living, across the globe.”

Paddy Crumlin President of the ITF said: “we honour the working men and women that have lost their lives at work - through employer negligence and criminality, through war or the on the basis of their ethnicity, age, gender, or religion.

“And in honouring them on Memorial Day, we are making sure that we're creating the circumstances of a pervasive accountability on the job. And a recognition of those working families that have lost their breadwinners and have lost the opportunity for better lives and more decent lives. All of those understandings come together on Memorial Day so that we, in remembering, make sure that that does not happen again.

“In 2024 we think particularly of those transport workers having to work in wars – Ukraine, Palestine, Yemen. Not wars that they have caused, but wars that workers pay the price for – often with their lives. Peace is union business. Peace is a business of human rights and human development. Of human accountability and human decency.

“Our message is simple: if you kill a worker, we will see you go to jail.”