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Three million work days lost to injury and illness

28 April, 2004

Just over three million workdays were lost in 2002 as a direct result of workplace related injury or illness. Commenting on these startling figures today, Worker's Memorial Day, Sinn Féin EU candidate for Dublin Mary Lou McDonald expressed her shock and outrage at the figures. The figures were released in a response to a parliamentary question put to the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment by Sinn Féin's Arthur Morgan TD.

Ms McDonald said: "It is an absolutely shocking statistic that 3.156 million workdays were lost in 2002 due to workplace injury or illness. It is also unsurprising that one of the industrial sectors hit hardest is the construction injury, where almost 100,000 workdays were lost in 2002.

"But statistical analysis can only tell us so much. It can‚t show us the shattered limbs and torn muscles that result from injuries on the job. It says nothing about the suffering of families where the wage earner is crippled because his or her employer decided to cut corners on safety. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that two million workers die a year and for every fatal accident there are 1,000 non-fatal injuries.

"Today is Worker‚s Memorial Day, recognised by the ILO. On the 28th April each year trade unionists around the world commemorate workers who have been killed, injured or made ill because of their work. It is an occasion to remember - but also to campaign for the living, to highlight the preventable nature of most workplace accidents and work-related diseases, and fight for improvements in workplace safety. Hence, "remember the dead and fight for the living".

"Unscrupulous employers putting profits before the safety of their employees, or exploiting the fears and vulnerabilities of employers who are not in a trade union, are putting lives at risk every day in Ireland. Sinn Féin is committed to the principle of mandatory trade union recognition, and I am determined to work towards this aim if elected to the European Parliament." ENDS

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