International Day of Mourning

On April 28 each year, unions, workers and their families and friends, in over 100 countries gather to remember the men, women and children who:

  • were killed or injured at work, or became sick from exposure to hazardous substances or biological hazards;
  • were tortured, imprisoned, murdered or opressed because of their trade union activities;
  • suffered degradation, pollution or destruction of their communities due to unsustainable work practices.

In Australia

  • Every year around 440 workers are killed in traumatic work-related incidents (over 8 each week). Diseases such as cancer and asbestos related  illnesses cause about 2,300 additional deaths per year (44 per week). Road accidents in Australia claim about 30 lives each week.
  • According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, more that 15 serious injuries occur every hour (or 1 injury every 4 minutes)


There are at least 1.3 million worker deaths per year. This is nearly double the number of deaths due to war.

  • 12,000 of those killed are children.
  • Over 160 million new injuries and work related diseases are reported each year.
  • International unions estimate that each year over 200 trade unionists are killed or “disappear”, 8,500 are arrested, 3,000 injured and almost 20,000
  • fired for trying to improve basic working conditions.

The vast majority of work related deaths are preventable. The union movement actively campaigns on occupational health and safety, and those efforts are partly reflected by the fact that the greater the degree of unionism in a workplace, the safer it is.