To the Editor:
April 28th is the National Day of Mourning to remember workers who have been injured or killed on the job. Last year in Saskatchewan, 36 workers died due to workplace injuries or occupational disease.
The vigils we are holding this year to mark the National Day of Mourning will be virtual – yet another way COVID-19 has changed the way we live and work.
While we cannot gather in-person, we can show our solidarity with frontline workers and remember fallen workers by lighting a candle in our homes and posting a photo to social media with the hashtag #WorkersDayofMourning and #StopthePandemicAtWork.
We are encouraging frontline workers to share a photo in your uniform or protective apparel using the same hashtags.
This year the enduring message of Day of Mourning — to mourn for the dead and fight for the living — is ever more meaningful.
Right now, millions of workers who have been deemed essential are risking their well being every day.
Millions of people across the country go to their jobs hoping that others are taking all the right precautions.
We are seeing our essential employees - the front line health care workers, grocery and food service staff and others doing their jobs contracting Covid-19. Many have recovered but sadly others have succumbed . Let’s not forget the sacrifice made by those employees to keep us healthy, fed and safe.
We owe it to all these workers to make sure they know their rights and that those rights are defended.
Our three basic rights at work that are protected in health and safety statutes in every jurisdiction in Canada are:
1. Right to know about the hazards in their workplace and receive the training they need to be able to do their jobs safely.
2. Right to participate in decisions that could affect their health and safety.
3. Right to refuse work that could endanger their health and safety or that of others.The right to refuse is not the first step to protect workers. This is a serious, sometimes necessary step that no worker takes lightly.
These are not frivolous rights, nor can they be pushed aside in the face of a pandemic. In fact, this pandemic highlights where these rights need to be strengthened.
There are over 1,000 workers who lose their lives every year in this country and many more whose lives have been changed forever because of something that happened in the workplace. The best way to pay tribute to these workers is to do our best to protect others.
Once this crisis is over, we must commit to fighting for fair wages, adequate paid sick leave and proper job protections.
As workers, retirees, leaders, activists and allies we must continue to come together to make every workplace safe and healthy for everyone.
On this Day of Mourning and in the context of this global pandemic, we once again commit ourselves to mourn for the dead and fight for the living.
Weyburn & District Labour Council