Monday, April 28, 2008



Today, April 28, is Workers' Memorial Day worldwide. This day is a contribution of the Canadian labour movement to world culture. The day was first promoted in 1984 by CUPE and several other Canadian unions to remember 4 miners killed on the job in Sudbury. The Canadian Labour Congress first declared the day as a day of remembrance in 1985. The significance of the date is that it is also the anniversary of the first Canadian Workers' Compensation Act, passed in 1919. In the USA it is the anniversary of the establishment of OSHA.

The Canadian Parliament passed Bill C-223 in 1989, establishing the day as a day of mourning and remembrance. In 1989 the American AFL-CIO adopted April 28th as their day of morning.In 1996 the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions adopted the day, and it became an official international day with a ceremony at the United Nations in New York. It is still not officially recognized as such by the UN, but a process to make such a proclamation began in 2005. Today it is officially observed in 19 countries worldwide. The International Labour Organization recognizes April 28 as 'International Health and Safety Day". The list of countries that officially observe this day includes Argentina, Belgium, Bermuda, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Columbia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Greece, Luxembourg, Panama, Poland, Peru, Portugal, Spain, Taiwan and Ukraine. Note the conspicuous absence of the USA.

This day is needed because work usually kills more people per year than wars do. Over two million people per year die of workplace injuries and disease. Here in Manitoba we have the worst rate per capita of any Canadian province. For a listing of the events worldwide please see Hazards Magazine. See also this blog for April 28, 2007 in our archives for more useful links.

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