Every year on April 28 we pay our respects to, and remember, the thousands of workers who have been killed, injured or suffered illness as a result of work-related incidents. We also honour the many families and friends who have been deeply affected by these tragedies. Every worker has the right to return home safe and sound at the end of each work day. By working together – with employers, workers and our health and safety partners – we can prevent worker injuries and deaths before they occur.
The National Day of Mourning, held annually on April 28th, was officially recognized by the federal government in 1991, eight years after the day of remembrance was launched by our Canadian Labour Congress (CLC). The Day of Mourning has since spread to more than 80 countries around the world and has been adopted by the AFL-CIO and the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions.
With respect to the upcoming National Day of Mourning, taking place this Saturday, April 28th, while the enduring theme is Mourn for the Dead – Fight for the Living, the last several years, the CLC has provided a focus for the “fight for the living” aspect. In 2016, the labour movement focused on banning asbestos and last year, commemorated the 25th anniversary of the Westray tragedy.
Drawing inspiration from the ongoing work of many affiliates, labour councils and federations of labour across the country, we want to bring focus and attention to the issue of violence and harassment as part of this year’s Day of Mourning activities. In recognition that violence and harassment are work place hazards that must not be treated as an inevitable component of work, and inspired by all the work that has been done to date on this issue, we will unite under the banner of Violence and Harassment: it’s not part of the job.
We know that violence and harassment are not experienced in the same way by all workers. Other forms of discriminatory harassment intersect with gender-based and sexual harassment, making some workers feel more vulnerable. And we know that a worker in any sector faces an increased risk if they are experiencing domestic violence.
So on Saturday April 28, 2018, mark the day in your own way and observe moments of silence together with your family, friends, fellow members and co-workers. Please share with our office any pictures from your Day of Mourning events. Sharing these images will increase awareness of the importance of commemorating the National Day of Mourning and insist that all levels of government do more to enforce existing health and safety laws and vigorously prosecute violations when a worker is killed or seriously injured.