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Lynn Boylan MEP marks Workers Memorial Day

28 April, 2015 - by Senator Lynn Boylan

Dublin Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan has marked International Workers Memorial Day by reiterating her call for the immediate introduction of collective bargaining rights in Ireland.

Ms Boylan was speaking as trade unions around the world held events to mark Workers Memorial Day, including a European Trade Union Confederation event in Strasbourg and Irish Congress of Trade Unions events in Ireland.

Ms Boylan said:

“Every year, working people and their unions mark Workers Memorial Day on April 28 to remember those who have been killed and injured at work. According to the ILO, more than 2 million people die each year as a result of accidents and disease related to work, – the vast majority as a result of exposure to hazardous substances such as asbestos.

Most die because their employer decided that making a profit was more important than ensuring workers’ safety.

That’s why the rallying cry of this day is to ‘remember the dead and fight for the living’.

“The workplace fatality rate in the south of Ireland remains shockingly high, and it is rising, not falling. In this state, there were 56 people who went to work last year and never came home, according to the Health Service Authority. This was a 17% increase on the previous year. Altogether, from 2010 to 2014, 253 people were killed in work-related accidents in this state and thousands more were seriously injured. Congress has described these figures as ‘staggering’.  

“In the European Union, the Commission has delayed since October 2013 its adoption of legally binding exposure limits for dangerous cancer-causing chemicals. This failure to threat the issue with the urgency it requires has meant that 150,000 workers in Europe have died unnecessary

“Across the world, the link between strong union representation and safer workplaces has been proved time and time again – from the level of unions having input into industrial policy down to the local workplace level.

 But workers are severely disadvantaged in this state as a result of the lack of enforceable collective bargaining rights, which has a flow-on effect in safety, pay and conditions.

 “I welcome the fact that the Irish government is officially taking part in Workers Memorial Day events today for the first time ever – but it needs to back up its words with deeds and immediately introduce legislation to enshrine collective bargaining rights in law.”

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