Workers’ Memorial Day is an international holiday marked on April 28 annually. It is observed to raise awareness of the importance of workplace safety, as well as commemorate all the workers who have lost their lives due to work-related illnesses and those whose lives have been put on hold due to injuries that have incurred while working. According to figures, the number of people who get killed at work is higher than those who lose their lives to wars and drug abuse combined! Labor unions around the world observe this day to remember their fallen heroes and discuss measures to ensure safe workplaces.
History of Workers Memorial Day
Although it only became widely popular when the U.S. first celebrated it on April 28, 1989, Workers’ Memorial Day had been celebrated several years before then by Canada on the same day. Perhaps, the unpopularity associated with Canada’s first observation can be credited to the fact that it was celebrated under a different, albeit similar name. Regardless of who first observed it though, the day was inspired by the signing of the Occupational Safety and Health Act into law in 1970 and the formation of the OSHA on April 28, 1971.
In the early years of the signing of the OSHA into law, the celebration of the Workers’ Memorial Day was centered in North America. The holiday only attained international recognition in the last parts of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st centuries. In 1985, the Canadian Labor Congress pronounced April 28 as an annual day of remembrance — which is the anniversary of a Workers’ Compensation Act signed as far back as 1914. Progressively, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organization (A.F.L.-C.I.O.) declared April 28 as Workers’ Memorial Day to honor the thousands of people who have been injured or lost their lives on their jobs. The U.K. followed suit with their celebration in 1992.
Since the adoption of the holiday by the International Labor Organization (I.L.O.) in 2001, many countries are now actively participating in observing it, with some deeming it fit to confer the holiday a public holiday status. Furthermore, to add value to the holiday, from 1996, annual themes began to be assigned to each year’s celebration of the day.
Workers Memorial Day timeline
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is formed.
The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations declares April 28 as Workers' Memorial Day.
Tommy Harte introduces Workers' Memorial Day in the U.K.
The I.C.F.T.U. begins to set annual themes for each Workers' Memorial Day.
An agency of the United Nations — I.L.O. — recognizes Workers' Memorial Day and declares it World Day for Safety and Health at Work.
Workers Memorial Day FAQs
What does a labor union do?
Among many other things, labor unions are charged with fighting for the betterment of their workers’ welfare, remunerations, and all things needed for them to work in a favorable environment and for decent financial gratification. Generally, labor unions serve as mediators between their members and authorities. Their impacts have been felt by both employees and employers over the years.
Is a labor union a good thing?
It is. This is evident in the many advantages and privileges unionized workers get over their non-unionized counterparts. Most significant changes in employees’ welfare and safety were achieved through the struggles of labor unions. They do have their setbacks though.
Why do people not like unions?
Most governments and employers detest labor unions because of their strong affection for riots and strike actions. To the unions, those two are the most effective languages employers understand, and many a time, they do succeed in pressing home their demands with the employers.
How to Observe Workers Memorial Day
Inform the public about work safety
Go out there and educate the public on the importance of staying safe while at work. Also, tell them the possible risks associated with their various works.
Strive for a safer environment at work
If you are working in an unsafe or potentially dangerous environment, get people to rally behind you and ask for a safer work environment from your employers. You might just be a cause for a good change.
Honor the memories of fallen workers
Be it a close relative, friend, acquaintance, or stranger, honor the memories of those fallen heroes, who died in the cause of their works. Pay tributes to them or their loved ones.
5 Interesting Facts About Workers’ Memorial Day
It was first celebrated in Canada
Canada was the first country to mark it although under a different but similar name.
It was unpopular at first
The event was first known but not quite as popular as it became in the later years.
America made it popular
It only began to be widely recognized when the U.S. marked it.
It became international
A host of country trade unions in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and elsewhere observe it.
It's a public holiday in Gibraltar
While it is simply a national holiday in other countries, it is a government-free public holiday in Gibraltar.
Why Workers Memorial Day is Important
It reminds us of successful struggles
Workers' Memorial Day reminds us of how effective calling out to authorities for good changes can be. By doing so, we may be able to save someone's life.
It increases the unity between workers worldwide
Whichever continent you happen to be from and whichever race you belong to, this day increases the bond and unity between workers in achieving a common goal. We love this!
It gives workers a more amplified voice
Workers around the world use the day to loudly voice out their work environment and other pressing demands. Considerate employers, on the other hand, listen to the demands.
Workers Memorial Day dates