Rebecca Quilliam

Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the APNZ News Service office in Wellington.

Fifty-one lives lost on the job

File photo / NZ Herald
File photo / NZ Herald

Fifty-one workers were killed while they were doing their jobs last year, the Council of Trade Unions says.

Tomorrow is Workers Memorial Day, an international day of remembrance and action for workers who died at the workplace.

The CTU believed Workers Memorial Day was an opportunity for reflection and commitment to change.

"It's all too easy to think of these tragic deaths as just another number; another empty statistic rather than someone loved, someone who was an important part of a community,'' president Helen Kelly said.

"Fathers, sons, mothers, daughters, loved members of family fabric. 11 of the 51 workers who died at work were forestry workers, this makes forestry the most dangerous industry to work in.''

More than 100 family members of forestry workers killed at work, were today attending a memorial service.

Tomorrow the CTU would be raising money by "shaking buckets on street corners'' for a new Workers Memorial Fund which would fund legal support, advice, advocacy and representation to victims' families when their loved one was killed at work, Ms Kelly said.

"And at lunchtime we will silently process through Wellington streets, starting at the Railway Station at noon, to remember those who died at work.

"Our procession will end at Parliament - a place which has the power to make things safer at work,'' she said.

"We need safer workplaces with workers, employers, and politicians working together to ensure that the right regulations and practices are in place.

"In no industry should the risks be so great and the safeguards so lacking, that workers are regularly harmed,'' Ms Kelly said.

"Regardless of whether you work in an office or in the forest there should be no question that you'll be able to finish your work day alive."

- APNZ

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