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Trade union body demands safe and healthy work for all
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Thursday, 29 April 2004
Brussels, 28th April 2004: Today, trade unionists around the world are participating in events based on the primary global issue of safe and healthy work for all. Events to commemorate those killed or injured at work will take place in several countries stretching as far as Kenya to Estonia, and Nicaragua to Malaysia to mark the 9th International Commemoration Day for Dead and Injured Workers. International Labour Organisation (ILO) figures show that every year, over 2 million people die from work related causes. This adds up to 1 death every 15 seconds.

"Safe and healthy work is a basic right for all, not the privilege of the few" said Guy Ryder, General Secretary of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU). "Governments need to do much more and many employers are still failing to honour their responsibility to ensure workplaces are safe and healthy. Its time that employers recognised their accountability and make the health and safety of their employees as high a priority as their profit margins." Since its inception in 1996 when a global union delegation lit a commemoration candle at the United Nations in New York to honour deceased, injured and sick workers, several governments have made 28th April a national observance day. The International Commemoration Day for Dead and Injured Workers is officially recognised in the Dominican Republic, Canada, Peru, Portugal, Spain, Taiwan and several other countries.

At the ICFTUs headquarters in Brussels, over 200 Belgian trade unionists will gather for a silent protest against work related deaths in the country. Each demonstrator, dressed in white as a mark of respect, will represent one of the 213 Belgian workers killed at work in 2002.

In the United Kingdom, AMICUS will be increasing its calls for the UK government to draft bill on corporate killing. The public services trade union UNISON is encouraging the wearing of a purple "forget me not" ribbon as a symbol of rememberance and solidarity with those campaigning against employers who kill, maim or destroy the health of those they employ. The National Union of Journalists will unveil a plaque tomorrow in memory of "those who report on conflict, but the pay the price with their lives".

In Costa Rica, trade union activities, led by the ICFTUs regional organisation, ORIT, will focus on workers affected by HIV/AIDS. A commemoration service in the Costa Rican capital of San José will draw together community and trade union representatives as well as key UN agencies including the ILO and UNAIDS. In addition, Costa Rican trade unions will organise a television programme, electronic bulletin and a national consultation with occupational health and safety professionals and trade union federations on national priorities, in collaboration with the Ministry of Labour, the national safety council and the CERSSO (Regional Centre of Security and Occupational Health for Central America and Dominican Republic).

Nepalese trade unions; the NTUC and GEFONT, will organise joint activities including joint rallies in Kathmandu during the national tripartite safety week programme. Sectoral trade unions will be running workplace level events across the country.

A conference will be held in Senegal on "the legislative and institutional framework for workplace accidents and occupational diseases" ahead of the introduction of an adult education programme initiated by the National Worker Education and Training Institute. The national union centre, CNTS, will light the symbolic commemoration candle at its headquarters in Dakar and in its 10 regional offices throughout the country.

In Australia, several commemoration events will take place across the country, organised by the ICFTUs Australian affiliate ACTU. The focus of activity will be industrial manslaughter, to build support for the passage of legislation on this issue through the national parliament. 28th April will also see the launch of a public fund to raise money for a workers memorial in the city of Adelaide.

In Bulgaria, the national trade union centre CITUB will organise a national press conference and commemoration activities across the country. A wreath will be placed at a 28th April stone monument built 3 years ago in front of the CITUBs headquarters.

An international event will be held at the ICFTUs offices featuring speeches by Assistant General Secretary Mamounata Cissé and Marc Sapir of the ETUC. The annual candle lighting ceremony at the worlds largest trade union organisations headquarters in Brussels will be followed by a one-minute silence and, thereafter, a choir performance.

Further information on activities around the world can be found here:

The ICFTU represents over 150 million workers in 233 affiliated organisations in 152 countries and territories. ICFTU is also a member of Global Unions.

For more information, you may contact the ICFTU Press Department on +32 2 224 0206 or +32 476 621 018.
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