This day is our opportunity to reflect on how to prevent work-related occupational diseases, deaths, injuries, and illnesses. It is also a day to remember those that have died from a work-related injury or illness.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, 2.78 million people were dying each year from work-related illness and injury. But more than one year into the global health crisis, working people are experiencing the worst workplace conditions, far from safety.
The World Health Organization reports that global cases of COVID-19 infection have surpassed 142 million and global deaths from the new coronavirus are more than 3 million. One health worker dies from Covid-19 every 30 minutes. The world is experiencing a fourth surge of the pandemic, with the rate of infection out of control and health systems overwhelmed, while only over 800 million doses of vaccine have been administered.
The immeasurable grief at the loss of lives, the huge losses of jobs, the great hunger at the loss of income, the unfair distribution of personal protective equipment and vaccines hit the working classes and poor the most. The safety and lives of workers were put at risk to revive receding economies.
All this on top of the danger of workplace fires, building collapses, dangerous chemicals, asbestos, moving vehicles, electric shock, repetitive strain injuries, and workplace discrimination and bullying which workers have been suffering for decades.
All the while global warming and climate change are causing greater damage through storms, fires, floods and deep changes to ecosystems. Heat at work due to global warming is a growing workplace hazard.
These workplace hazards, now worsened by the pandemic, reveal that capitalism and imperialism work by exploiting and oppressing the great majority of the world’s peoples. It is the greed for profits of capitalism that puts working people at risk.
Capitalist employers and governments must be held accountable for their negligence. The imposition of neoliberal policies, especially in third-world countries, including privatization of basic social services, has led to the lack of access to health for billions of working people.
The finance capitalists who created the Great Recession in 2008-09 are still in charge today. They have greatly enriched themselves amid the pandemic. They are determined to repress wages and cut public services in the coming years. Government debt will be their weapon, both in rich and poor countries. Their goal is higher profits, their policy will be austerity.
The only answer to these workplace dangers is to organise, resist and to aim to eventually take control of the workplace and the whole economy so that the elimination of these dangers is the priority, not the profits of the capitalists.
The International League of Peoples Struggles Workers’ Commission urges workers everywhere to join their trade unions, to make them democratic, and to deepen their understanding of how capitalism and imperialism works against the great majority of the people everywhere.
Working Class Response
- Free rapid COVID-19 vaccination for all workers everywhere
- Personal Protective Equipment for all workers who require it
- Elected Workplace Health & Safety Committees
- Full trade union rights to organise and collectively bargain
- End trade union repression!
- National industrial development – end reliance on global supply chains
- Radical action on global warming and ecological sustainability
- No War!
Workers’ safety and health is a fundamental right!
Save workers’ lives!
Decent compensation for worker victims of occupational incidents!