April 28 is International Workers’ Memorial Day. It is a day of mourning, of terrible loss, of unanswered questions, of anger and frustration. April 28 is not a health and safety day as some governments, employers and unions want us to believe. It is not a day to celebrate health and safety at work and the occupational health and safety policies of governments and industries and companies. It is a day to remember the millions of workers who lost their lives at work, or suffered serious injury or disease.
Among the millions are sisters and brothers, daughters and sons, wives, husbands, parents, cousins, friends, who didn’t come home from work, or who died from injuries, disease and illness caused by work. Not statistics, but real lives. Lives cut short by working to earn a living. April 28 is a day to ask why this is still happening, and to demand that it stop.
April 28 is a reminder that every single worker has a right to return home safely to their loved ones in good physical and mental health, free from injury or illness. We cannot accept the excuse that she died because it is a dangerous or hazardous occupation. If an occupation is hazardous, then we must make it safe. Spend money, build systems, change work practices, plan, redesign, and invest in making it safe.
There is more spending on military research and development today – on new ways to kill each other – than saving lives at work. Just a fraction of the money spent on military budgets and the business of killing would allow us to fundamentally transform work in ways that eliminate hazards and remove risk. This means more workers coming home from work safely and in good physical and mental health. It would mean fewer families asking why their loved ones were killed by their work. It would mean fewer lives to mourn on April 28.
In 2023 we call for an end to military conflict and war, for demilitarization and peace, and we call on governments and their corporate sponsors to stop the killing. At the same time we call on governments and employers to stop killing workers at work. We urgently need to shift public and private economic resources away from the business of killing, and invest in protecting the living. No more lives should be lost at work due to injury, illness and disease.
Remember the dead and fight for the living. Stop the killing.