International Workers’ Memorial Day 2023: Unionized Workplaces are Safer Workplaces Organize and mobilize for workers’ safety, health, and rights!
The International Workers’ Memorial Day is commemorated every April 28 to remember all the workers who died due to unsafe jobs and workplaces. We also mark this day with our unwavering commitment to fight for workers’ health, safety, and rights.
This year, we celebrate the success of our collective action that paved the way for the International Labor Organization’s recognition of occupational safety and health as a fundamental principle and right at work (FPRAW). It also highlights the role of the government and unions in ensuring that workers attain their rights to health and safety.
This declaration also reminds us that workers’ health and safety should always be integral to the plans and programs of unions. On the other hand, and just as important, it underlines the government’s responsibility to ensure that workers are healthy and safe. It can only do this through the effective forming and implementation of laws championing Occupational Safety and Health, thorough observation and participation in campaigns forwarding the OSH standard, and the continuous forming of appropriate policies based on the actual conditions of the health and safety of the workers.
Amidst ILO’s declaration and the passage of the OSH Law in the Philippines last 2018, it cannot be stated that the health and safety of workers have improved. Proving this is the sequential workers’ deaths due to company negligence and gross OSH standards violations in 2022. Highlighted are the 12 workers who died in May to July of 2022. One of them is Stephen Corilla, a contractual worker in Cebu who died due to an unsafe machine and the company’s negligence to ensure his safety. This year, four workers also died in a fire at a printing press in Valenzuela City last April 4, 2023.
These tragedies are happening in workplaces amidst a dire lack of labor inspectors in the country, the subpar OSH compliance rate of companies, and the consistent top violations such as the absence of safety officers and fire inspection certificates.
In addition and should not be disregarded are the various illnesses that workers develop due to the constant exposure to hazards in the workplace. In recent workers’ consultations, alarming reports of the lack of awareness and know-how of workers in handling chemicals, extreme heat and lack of proper ventilation in workplaces, long hours of work, and the unjust quotas imposed on workers. These unsafe conditions can affect workers’ health and cause potential work-related diseases in the long run.
There were also reports of reproductive health illnesses among women workers in the electronics industry. During the height of the pandemic and until today, workers also raised mental health concerns and how they could take care of their health and safety while under a work-from-home setup.
Despite these issues raised, Congress has still not tackled the proposed bill to impose stricter penalties and criminalize companies that have been proven to violate OSH standards, especially if these result in workers’ deaths, illnesses, and injuries. It has been eight years since the Kentex factory fire, and yet the company and its owners have not been held accountable for their negligence that claimed the lives of more than 70 workers.
The fight for safer workplaces and healthy work environments should go hand in hand with the workers’ fight for their right to organize. Remember: Workers are safer when there is a union that upholds, protects, and ensures their health, safety, and rights.
Safe Workplaces Now!
- Allocate the appropriate funds to hire more labor inspectors.
- Congress should immediately tackle House Bill 2126, the proposed bill that aims to criminalize OSH standard violations. Pass House Bill 2126 now!
Unionized Workplaces are Safer Workplaces!
- Form workers’ OSH committees in your workplaces.
- Form a union to ensure safer workplaces.
- Regularly conduct discussions and training on health and safety topics.
- Stop the attacks and repression of the rights of workers to organize and form unions.
Justice for all victims of OSH rights violations!
Remember the dead, fight for the living!
Organize and mobilize for workers’ safety, health, and rights!
Join the May 1 mobilization!
JUST A MINUTE FOR WORKERS’ HEALTH, SAFETY, AND RIGHTS
One-minute silent protest and pledge towards fighting for workers’ health, safety, and rights.
We invite everyone to dedicate one minute of silence to commemorate the workers around the world who died due to unsafe working conditions. The silent protest will be followed by a recitation of the Workers’ Health and Safety Pledge to continue the fight for workers’ health, safety, and rights.
#JustAMinute Silent Protests can be conducted in workplaces (canteen during breaktimes, company gates before or after shifts, shuttle bus pick up areas before travelling), schools, hospitals, communities, homes, and other spaces of gathering.
We encourage you to record your #JustAMinute Silent Protest actions and post these on social media. Don’t forget to use the hashtags: #SafeWorkplacesNow #MasLigtasPagMayUnyon #IWMD2023 #JustAMinute
Remembrance and Resistance: A Workers’ Memorial Day Solidarity Event and Open Mic Night, 7:00 PM onwards at Human Rights and People Empowerment Center, Fil Garcia Tower, Kalayaan Avenue, Quezon City
An evening of performances and solidarity to commemorate the lives of workers who died while on duty, calling for justice and action towards fighting for the health, safety, and rights of workers.
The solidarity night will start off with its annual candle lighting activity to remember all the workers around the world who died due to unsafe work hazards.
The program highlights the different forms of cultural art and performance such as poetry reading, one-act play, short films and documentaries that express the long-standing calls of our workers.
We invite you to join and share your works and talents as we creatively express our solidarity and resistance through the Open Mic event that will take place after the program. Open Mic will begin at around 8:30 PM onwards.
We look forward to commemorating the event in strong solidarity with students, artists, media practitioners, professionals, and workers. This gathering aims to strengthen our resolve to take part and mobilize our ranks on Labor Day, May 1.
This event is organized in partnership with Mayday Multimedia, Human Rights and People Empowerment Center, and the Political Science Program UP Manila NSTP.