CUPE statement on National Day of Mourning
TO ALL CUPE CHARTERED ORGANIZATIONS
RE: April 28, 2006 National Day of Mourning for Workers Killed or Injured at the Workplace
Sisters and Brothers,
April 28 is the Day of Mourning for workers who have been killed or injured on the job. It is a day to mourn and to acknowledge that each worker’s death is not only a tragedy for families, it is a tragedy for co-workers and for all of society. On this day we stand in solidarity with workers in over 100 countries around the world and we share with each other a collective sense of loss.
We know that most workplace fatalities and occupational diseases are preventable. But governments and employers must exercise the political, economic and moral will to prevent workers from dying and getting sick from their jobs.
The members listed on CUPE’s Day of Mourning plaque in Ottawa did not die as a result of fate. Most died because the health and safety laws created to protect them were not properly enforced.
Three workers die from their work every day in Canada. At least 12 Canadian workers die from occupational disease every day as well. They didn’t die by coincidence or as a result of their lifestyle, but from deadly agents and work practices. To literally add insult to injury, most of their deaths are unrecognized by workers’ compensation systems across Canada.
There are many workers we must remember today and every day. We must remember the many young and new workers who are injured and killed at a much higher rate than mature workers. Not because they are reckless, but because they are not taught about the hazards they will face in the workforce and their legal right to be kept safe in a workplace.
We must remember the many workers who die as a result of exposure to a deadly assortment of cancer-causing agents that needlessly circulate throughout our workplaces. We must remember women workers whose health problems are often ignored and not acknowledged by health studies. And we must remember the working wounded who are forced to continue working because they are unable to get the compensation to which they are entitled.
April 28 is a day to rally the world’s workers to reflect on what needs to be done to prevent more deaths and injuries and to signal the need to continue our never-ending fight for decent, safe working conditions.
On April 28, we reaffirm our solidarity and commitment to workplace health and safety and state to all that we mourn the dead and fight for the living.