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Unions mourn lost workers on International Workers’ Memorial Day

Brisbane workers and families paused on International Workers’ Memorial Day (Friday 28 April 2023) to remember workers who have been killed on the job.

The memorial event, organised by the Queensland Council of Unions (QCU), took place from 11am at Emma Miller Place, Roma Street, Brisbane.

Speakers at the Brisbane International Workers’ Memorial Day event included:

  • Jacqueline King - Acting General Secretary, QCU
  • Ian Leavers - President, Queensland Police Union
  • Shane Murphy - Secretary, Communication Workers Union
  • Jared Abbott - Director of Organising, Transport Workers’ Union

QCU Acting General Secretary Jacqueline King said the ceremony honoured the 21 Queensland workers – and further 6 bystanders – who were killed in work-related incidents over the past 12 months (from 1 March 2022 to 28 February 2023).

“This includes six workers in the construction industry; seven in agriculture; four in transport, postal and warehousing; and four in manufacturing,” Ms King said.

“This year, we also mourned the deaths of two courageous police officers, Constable Rachel McCrow and Constable Matthew Arnold, who were killed in an incident at a rural property in the Western Downs last December.”

“These brave officers, aged just 29 and 26, died in the course of duty – a sacrifice that no worker should have to make.

True workplace death toll higher than reported

Ms King said the true death toll in Queensland workplaces was higher, due to the way in which workplace fatalities are recorded.

“These numbers do not include deaths caused by road traffic incidents, suicide, and other fatalities in the mining, quarrying, national rail and other Commonwealth health and safety jurisdictions.

“They also do not include the many other workers who were seriously injured or suffering from fatal or debilitating injuries, illnesses, and diseases as a result of work,” she said.

Ms King said International Workers’ Memorial Day was a solemn reminder of the importance of maintaining strong work health and safety laws.

“Unions play a central role in enforcing work health and safety laws; union workplaces and workplaces with Health and Safety Reps are no doubt safer workplaces,” she said.

Ms King said the QCU is looking forward to the Queensland government’s release of an independent review into Queensland’s work health and safety laws undertaken last year.

“We hope to see recommendations to strengthen the role and powers of Health and Safety Reps; improve processes to resolve workplace health and safety issues, including hazards that pose an imminent risk; and improve the rights of unions to access workplaces and address health and safety issues,” she said.

Listen to the ceremony via the Workers United Podcast

IWMD (fb)

In this special edition of Workers United, we share live audio from the IWMD ceremony in Brisbane, including speeches from union leaders to commemorate lost workers and live performances by Brisbane singer and MEAA member Asabi Goodman.

Listen to the episode below: