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International Workers Memorial Day 2018

Hundreds gathered at the Workers Memorial in Parkes on the 28th of April to mourn those who had died in the workplace.

It was an emotional event that was attended by workers, union officials and politicians all trying to raise awareness for safety in the workplace.

“Mourn for the dead, fight like hell for the living” was the phrase emblazoned on banners throughout the memorial site, a phrase that captured the theme of the event.

There was a distinct sense of sadness and anger in the crowd as stories were recounted of avoidable deaths and injuries to people in the workplace.

Photo credit: Lewis O’Keefe

The event begun with keynote speakers who did not try to hide their political affiliation as they discussed the importance of unions in protecting workers lives.

They also criticised the federal government for not properly regulating workplace safety and therefore endangering workers lives.

Many of the speakers reiterated the same point; that over 40 workers die each year and over 3000 are injured.

A further point was made stating ACT construction sites are the most dangerous for Australian construction workers.

The most memorable speaker of the day was CFMEU secretary, Jason O’Mara who gave a long poignant speech giving stories of ordinary Australians dying in the workplace.

He told a harrowing story of two men who died on a construction site in Ballarat earlier this year.

Photo credit: Lewis O’Keefe

The men were on their own unsupervised in a ditch that was not properly stabilised, the ditch collapsed and killed them both.

It was a story that resonated with the themes of the day, deaths that were completely avoidable but occurred because of cut corners.

The event then became a march as the crowd walked over to the Kings Avenue Bridge to raise the flags that represented the International Workers Memorial Day.

During the walk the crowd began to chant “Stand up! Speak up! Help out!” whilst waving their union flags.

The event concluded when the flags were raised high over the bridge with cars beeping as they drove past.

Photo credit: Lewis O’Keefe

It was an emotional event but an important to raise awareness for a significant issue.

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