The Alberta Federation of Labour is encouraging Albertans across the province to stop for a moment today to remember workers who were killed because of work. April 28th is the International Day of Mourning, commemorated in more than 150 countries.
"It is important to have a day to remember workers killed because of work," says AFL President Gil McGowan. "Focusing our attention on the epidemic of workplace injury and death helps us remember the loss thousands of workers' families experience. But it also should re-double our commitment to preventing it in the first place."
"Employers, workers and the government can and must do more to make our workplaces safer," McGowan adds. "Employers need to stop cutting corners on safety; the government must enforce our safety laws more aggressively; and workers need to stand up for our rights more."
McGowan notes that in 2008, 166 workers were killed because of work in Alberta - over three a week. This is up from 154 deaths in 2007.
"2008 was the fourth deadliest year for workers in Alberta's history," observed McGowan. "There were more workers killed last year than in more than 25 years."
The worst years in Alberta history were 1914 (221 - the year of the Hillcrest Mine disaster), 1980 (169) and 1982 (169).
"It is wrong to throw up our hands and declare fatalities as 'unavoidable,' or to blame the boom. We know how to prevent workplace death - we have the technological, scientific and occupational hygiene knowledge to make workplaces safe."
"What we are missing is the political and economic will to do it."
"There are Day of Mourning ceremonies in every Alberta municipality. The AFL encourages Albertans to mark April 28th at their workplace and by attending your local community ceremony"
For more information call:
Gil McGowan, AFL President (780) 483-3021 (office) (780) 218-9888 (cell)