International Worker’s Memorial Day
International Worker’s Memorial Day is observed on 28th April every year (#IWMD21). On this day we remember those who have lost their lives at work, or from work-related injury and diseases. We renew our efforts to organize collectively to prevent more deaths, injuries, and diseases because of work.
The theme of International Worker’s Memorial Day 2021 is “Health and Safety is a fundamental workers’ right.”
Why 28th April
April 28th is the anniversary of the date the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 went into effect. So, on this day everybody concerned with health and safety at work—trade unions, employer groups, and individual organizations across the world—can remember all those souls who were injured or have died in work-related incidents.
This week, union members across the world will come together to celebrate the lives of workers lost and to recommit to the fight to make safety priority No. 1 on the job. Workers and their representatives conduct events, demonstrations, vigils, and a whole host of other activities to mark the day.
This day was established in the 1980s by American trade unions to remember those killed in the workplace and industrial accidents and mark gains made by the movement when it comes to workers’ health and safety.
Workers’ Memorial Week is a week of activities planned around Workers’ Memorial Day, which is commemorated on April 28 each year. While it often gets less attention than May Day or International Workers’ Day three days later, it remains an important opportunity to highlight issues close to home and abroad.
This year, in 2021 the Workers’ Memorial Day takes on a special significance. Key workers, many previously discarded as unskilled, have put their lives on the line across the globe amid the Covid-19 pandemic, and many have paid with their lives. The Covid-19 crisis underscores the need for our mental health services to be supported and for workers to know that there is help for them when they need it.
This year International Workers Memorial Day all the trade unions across the globe will be commemorating this day to all those who have lost their lives to COVID-19, including the many brave essential workers, from healthcare to agriculture, who put their lives on the line at this moment to protect society. No one should die from work.
Every year millions of people die because of their job. This is despite the obligations of governments and companies to protect workers from preventable sickness or accidents in the workplace. On International Workers’ Memorial Day, we remember these workers. This year our thoughts are with those who have lost loved ones to COVID-19, as well as to those battling the virus, either as patients or as doctors and other allied health professionals.
COVID or no COVID, no one should die from work. Let us work towards a world in which no worker dies from work-related accident or illness – and for this, we will never stop fighting. While we may not be able to attend memorial events which usually take place on IWMD, we can still join collectively online.
Both Unions and employers are asked to remember the saying “remember the dead, but fight for the living”, showing a clear commitment to eliminating the potential for these tragedies to be repeated.
What you can do:
- Tweet about IWMD using the hashtag #IWMD21.
- Observe a minute’s silence at your place of work.
- Encourage your colleagues to wear a purple ribbon.
- Display posters promoting IWMD.
- Attend a local event commemorating IWMD.
Suggested Read: May Day