On 28 April each year, unionists recognise International Workers Memorial Day to "Remember the dead, fight like hell for the living",placing out a pair of work shoes to represent each person killed in a workplace. Each year in Victoria, nearly 30 people are killed by industrial negligence – and that’s just according to the official statistics. Many, many more workers die on our roads, or from illnesses they developed in the line of their work. But incredibly it has taken over 20 years of campaigning to hold businesses criminally accountable for these deaths.
The recent Trades Hall campaign, supported by the families of Jack Brownlee and Charlie Howkins, met with Daniel Andrews and secured a commitment to make industrial manslaughter a crime. Workplace Manslaughter laws were passed in Victorian Parliament in November 2019.
Each shoe here represents a worker killed in the previous year to April 28 – Workers’ Memorial Day. Each shoe represents a family and community devastated by grief. We also recognise the nearly 30,000 workers who suffer serious physical and psychological injury at work. The union movement stands with the families and communities of workers killed and injured at work, and we will continue to campaign until every worker returns home safe.