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 the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), and has since spread to at least 80 countries around the world. This day is a tribute to those men and women who have died as a result of a workplace illness or accident.
The IBEW was originally formed by workers who wanted to improve safety in their workplace. Our union was formed on the need for safety at a time when 1 in 2 electrical workers were being killed on the job every day; even our own founding President Henry Miller died from a work place incident. Today, safety continues to be a main focus of our Local Unions mandate; safety is paramount to the IBEW!
With respect to this year’s National Day of Mourning, while the enduring theme on April 28th is “One is Too Many: No one should die on the job” , even one death is too many! No worker should die from their job; workers deserve to arrive home safely at the end of their workday but too many workers are dying from work. Workplace accidents and illnesses are preventable and should never be seen as “just part of the job”. Data shows that workplace injuries, accidents and illnesses are likely severely underreported; We can – and must – do more to prevent workplace deaths! Prevention measures like proactive inspections, a robust enforcement regime, strong health and safety committees, and a systemic approach to prevention are needed. Investing in prevention is the best thing we can do to keep workers safe so they can return home to their loved ones at the end of the day.
April 28th is the day we remember those whose lives were lost and those whose lives were forever changed because of something that happened in their workplace. It is also the day when we resolve to make every workplace a safe and healthy place to earn a living. So on Sunday, April 28th, 2019, mark the day by flying flags at half-mast, wear ribbons or black armbands, or whatever your traditional vigils/ceremonies are and observe moments of silence together with your family, friends and co-workers. Our presence at ceremonies will increase the 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; the following link shows ceremonies taking place in your area, across Canada: https://canadianlabour.ca/events/day-of-mourning-ceremonies-2019/.
We owe it to the families who have lost their loved ones to preventable workplace accidents and illnesses to do better for today’s workers.