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Sinn Féin Supports International Workers' Memorial Day

26 April, 2006

Sinn Féin General Secretary, Mitchel Mc Laughlin MLA has called for widespread support for International Workers' Memorial Day April 28th 2006.

Mr. Mc Laughlin said:

"The 28th April is annual international day of remembrance for workers killed, and in solidarity with those disabled, injured or in ill-health because of unsafe work practices. Internationally 28th April each year is an opportunity to draw attention to the preventable nature of workplace accidents and ill health. We should all fight for improvements for workers by endorsing campaigns and supporting trade union organizations in demands for accountable, workplace health and safety measures.

"This year's themes for International Workers' Memorial Day are to promote a total ban on the use of asbestos worldwide, and to promote the OHS Conventions and Instruments of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

The trade union slogan "safe work is a right not a privilege" must become the watchword for workers who face death, serious injury and permanently incapacity through illness such as Asbestosis or Mesothelioma. It is estimated by the Health and Safety Executive that at any given time in the six counties, app. 35,000 people (five per cent of the workforce) are absent from work due to work-related illness, costing the local economy a staggering £330 million per annum.

"Sinn Féin welcomes and strongly supports the international petition for a global asbestos ban. The petition will be presented to key international agencies on 28th April, International Workers' Memorial Day. The international petition is aimed at promoting the trade union-driven campaign for a global asbestos ban.

"Internationally, as many as 5,000 people die every day as a result of work-related accidents or illnesses according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The UN body said the global death toll from work-related incidents and disease was an estimated 2.2 million a year, ten per cent higher than three years ago. Workers are dying each and every day across the world and the ILO claims that at least half the deaths from accidents could be prevented by safe working practices as all accidents are avoidable and preventable

"Sinn Féin is therefore fully committed in supporting this day marked throughout the world by vigils and demonstrations projected to highlight particularly those killed at work and also to fight for the health, safety and welfare of the living. The objective behind Workers' Memorial Day has always been to "remember the dead - fight for the living". We join in the call for a concerted focus on both areas, ensuring that measures are taken immediately to prevent such tragedy. This will be achieved by developing trade union organisations and community action, enhanced by inclusive campaigns for robust enforcement with higher penalties for breaches of health & safety laws and unqualified support for a charge of corporate manslaughter.

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