A day to remember the dead and fight for the living

Queensland unions again marked 28 April as International Workers’ Memorial Day – a day to mourn for those who have lost their lives at work and to renew our vow to fight for the lives and safety of all workers.

A sombre memorial ceremony provided a chance for family and friends to remember, honour and mark the lives of those who have died at work.

Events were held in Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Townsville.

Tragically in Queensland, a total of 40 work-related fatalities in 2016 have been notified to the Office of Industrial Relations.  Investigations continue into many of these deaths but this is already three more than reported for 2015 in Queensland.

Since the beginning of this year, 51 Australians have been killed at work.

Last year, 178 Australians were killed at work. The year before that, it was 193 workplace deaths.

Queensland Council of Unions General Secretary Ros McLennan said workplace injury and death is an avoidable tragedy that no worker or family should have to experience.

“The price for safety is maintaining the collective strength to act,” she said.

“28 April is International Workers’ Memorial Day – a day to mourn for those who have lost their lives at work and to renew our vow to fight for the lives and safety of all workers.”

Ms McLennan said unions have fought for and won many protections for workers to make the guarantee of coming home safe a reality — protections that have made jobs safer, saved hundreds of thousands of lives and prevented many more injuries and illnesses in the workplace.

“Right now, unions are fighting for protections for workers to ensure they come home safe at the end of the day,” she said.

“But the fight is not over. The Turnbull Government has reintroduced the ABCC (with the help of One Nation) that destroys the ability of workers to look out for their mates and protect safety. We also work in an environment in which a company that kills workers through negligence gets fined less than the workers who stand up for the safety of their mates. Unfair laws need to be challenged – we call for industrial manslaughter laws to protect lives now.

“We cannot and will not let them succeed when workers’ lives are at stake.

“This year we will come together to call for decent, secure and safe jobs.

“We will seek stronger safeguards to prevent injuries and save lives. We will stand for the right of all workers to raise job safety concerns without fear of retaliation or prosecution and for the freedom to join a union and bargain for fair pay, respect and a better future,” she said.

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