The Council of Trade Unions (CTU) is to hold a silent procession through Wellington today to mark Workers Memorial Day and the 51 people who lost their lives at work in New Zealand last year.
First observed in Canada in 1989, Workers Memorial Day is an international day of remembrance for those killed or injured at work and is held annually on April 28.
To mark the day the CTU will lead a procession at lunchtime from the Railway Station to parliament.
“As a society we believe that no worker should die doing their job. In no industry should the risks be so great and the safeguards so lacking, that workers are regularly harmed. Regardless of whether you work in an office or in the forest there should be no question that you’ll be able to finish your work day alive,” CTU President Helen Kelly said.
Labour Minister Simon Bridges, in recognition of the day, said the government was committed to making changes in workplace health and safety.
“WorkSafe NZ, the new Crown agency dedicated to workplace health and safety, is up and running and working hard. It has a very clear mandate to bring down the death and injury toll – by 25 per cent by 2020 – in our workplaces. The Government has allocated an additional $30 million annually to WorkSafe NZ to strengthen education and enforcement,” he said.
“The Health and Safety Reform Bill — which is currently at Select Committee — will overhaul the current law and extend the duty to keep workers safe beyond the traditional employer. This will be especially important in contractor-dominated, high-risk sectors like forestry.”
Bridges added that the culture change to make workplaces safer was not up to the government alone and that all organisations have a part to play in ensuring workplaces are safe.