Victorian workplaces have had a horror start to the year with 9 fatalities as of 30 March as unions prepare to commemorate all workers who’ve died on the job worldwide.

Thursday, 28 April will mark the tenth International Workers Memorial Day
when unions in Australia and internationally ‘mourn the dead and fight for
the living’
with commemorative events and campaign activities.

Workers’ Memorial Day commenced in Canada in 1986, as a way of remembering
those killed or injured as a result of their work.

It was adopted internationally in 1996. The day is marked by ceremonies on or
around 28 April each year in countries all around the world.

The Canary symbol

This year Victorian unions have adopted the canary as our symbol for the day.

The canary symbol was first used by Canadian unions in the 1980s, as it is a distinctly work related animal – having been used in mines (and shopping centres) to show if the air was turning bad.

The canary died first – hopefully giving enough time for workers to escape
the workplace, before also dying.

Themes in previous years have included ‘Employer Accountability’, ‘Young
Workers’ and ‘Killer Chemicals’.

Commonwealth performing worse than any other workers
comp scheme

In Australia, the latest figures published by the Commonwealth government
show that the Commonwealth, as an employer, is performing worse than any other
state workers compensation scheme.

Victoria will introduce later this year a new OHS Act.

Mourning the dead

In Victoria a memorial service – to be held at the Memorial Rock, in
conjunction with IDSA (Industrial Death Support & Advocacy), followed by a
light lunch at Horti Hall.

  • Time: Memorial Service 10:30am – 11:15.
  • Afterwards in Horti Hall from 11:15.
  • Address: Victorian Trade Hall Council, cnr Lygon St & Victoria
    Pde, Carlton South
  • RSVP: Margot Hoyte,, 03 9662 3511
  • Fight for the living. Elect 10,000 new OHS reps

    Victorian Unions will launch the ‘Elect an OHS Rep’ Campaign on this day.

    10,000 new OHS Reps is the target of the campaign.

    The presence of a unionised, trained OHS Representative is the single biggest
    factor affecting the health and safety performance of a workplace.

    The new Victorian OHS Act encourages the election of OHS Representatives
    (including Deputies and Roving Representatives) and many more workers want

    OHS Rep recruitment posters, stickers & leaflets will be available at the
    launch for distribution in all Victorian workplaces.

    What can you do on Workers’ Memorial Day?

  • Ask your union delegate about organising participation in the Workers’
    Memorial Day event
  • Observe one minutes silence at 11 am in your workplace;
  • Elect health and safety representatives for your workplace if you don’t have
  • Get new materials for electing more OHS Reps, under the new Victorian laws
    that come into effect 1 July, 2005.
  • Have a meeting of OHS Reps and union delegates
  • Discuss health and safety issues at your workplace
  • Ask your employer to fix health safety problems at your workplace –
    employers have a legal duty to provide a safe and healthy workplace
  • If your employer will not fix health and safety problems, contact your union
  • Get more info about Victorian Health and
    Safety issues here

    Get more info about NSW Health and
    Safety issues here

    Get more info about Queensland
    Health and Safety issues here