Mourn the dead, Fight like hell for the living!

On April 28 every year, employees in Canada and internationally commemorate a day in remembrance of their Sisters and Brothers injured or killed on the job.


In Canada, April 28 is known as the Day of Mourning. The custom started in 1983 when two Canadian Union of Public Staff (CUPE) well being and security reps stumbled on a funeral of a firefighter killed on the job. They resolved to take this to CUPE’s conference, and to move a movement {that a} day be dedicated to those that suffered a office damage, or those that died whereas working for his or her employer. Such a movement was handed by CUPE, and the Canadian Labour Congress rapidly adopted swimsuit at its subsequent conference. April twenty eighth was chosen as this was the day Canada’s first Compensation Act handed its third studying in 1914.


Whereas many will gentle candles in ceremony on that day, one other image can also be used to indicate the significance of well being and security on the job – the Canary within the Mine. The Canary within the Mine dates again to the UK in 1911, when miners started to take canaries in a cage down with them into the mines. The canaries had been used to point the presence of carbon monoxide – they might collapse and die when it was current. Resulting from their small dimension and speedy respiratory charge, the carbon monoxide would have an effect on them instantly, giving the miners time to flee.


The image of the canary, within the cage of the office, is a haunting picture. It’s a actuality of entrance line employees in every single place. In case you take a look at these killed on the job, or those who die subsequently of their accidents, we’re a charge of virtually 3 a day (995). Reported accidents are over 30,000 a yr – probably the tip of the iceberg, as many employees will not be lined  the provincial Staff Security and Insurance coverage Boards, however by non-public insurance coverage that will have totally different reporting strategies, to not point out decrease ranges of compensation, if any.


These solemn memorials, noticed this week throughout Canada, are certainly a condemnation of a system that sends employees to work day-after-day, however doesn’t return them to their houses and their liked in the identical situation, or in any respect. Many in notoriously harmful industries similar to mining or development, or in our understaffed and over populated healthcare services, the place violence towards employees members has reached epidemic ranges, perceive this solely too effectively.


Provinces usually have laws that permits for the suitable to refuse unsafe work, an vital acquire for the labour motion. However it’s onerous to implement whenever you don’t have a union, and danger being fired for doing so. Or when a employee consultant on a compulsory joint well being and security committee will not be despatched, on the employer’s expense, for coaching that may enable them to analyze, and put a cease to office hazards or harmful practices.


There was a powerful response to latest tragedies, such because the 26 Westray Mine employees, killed in 1992, in Nova Scotia; or the Metron catastrophe in Toronto, when a growth close to the highest of a excessive rise collapsed, killing 4 employees, grievously injuring 1; or at Fiera Meals, additionally in Toronto, the place 5 employees have died on the job since 1999 – all occasions that happened in non-union workplaces. Many within the labour motion such because the United Steelworkers have demanded justice that matches the crime: kill a employee, go to jail. We have to manage and use our drive as employees to make this occur, to place bosses behind bars.


So on April 28, we should mourn our lifeless, and battle like hell for the dwelling – and battle like hell for a system that places individuals’s lives over the carnage of capitalist revenue.





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