International Workers Memorial Day 2023

Every year the 28th of April marks International Workers Memorial Day, otherwise known as International Commemoration Day for the Dead and Injured. It is an occasion for the labour movement to stop and reflect on the lives damaged and lost by the capitalist pursuit for profit.

This year in Geelong the occasion was marked by a small gathering at midday outside Trades Hall on Myers Street, where a list of those lives lost this year was read, a minute silence was observed and wreaths for the fallen were laid. According to Safe Work Australia (likely a conservative estimate) 43 Australian workers have already died in 2023.

While workplace safety is always an issue, of particular relevance this year are both the ongoing Covid pandemic and the new campaign by construction unions to ban silica. Silica, used in engineered stone, turns into a fine particle when disturbed that causes significant damage to the lungs. It is considered the ‘new asbestos’.

We want to remind workers that we should not leave it to bosses, politicians or agencies like Worksafe to keep us safe. This is a task workers should take on themselves.

As the old union slogan goes “mourn for the dead, fight for the living.”

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