Some days, politics should be kept in the background. Increasingly the International Day of Mourning is being used as a political platform, principally by the union movement. But this is discomforting and a little like anti-war protests during ANZAC Day, as happened several decades ago.
International Day of Mourning, or Workers’ Memorial Day, as it is also known, should be a time of reflection. There is no doubt that there is a political element to wortkplace safety and the deaths of workers but it is hard to remember the dead, look at the memorials and the floral tributes when a tannoy is shouting to a unon protest rally.
This was part of the scene outside the Trades Hall in Melbourne on 28 April 2010. Thousands of construction workers used the memorial as the starting point for a march to the offices of the Deputy Prime Minister, Julia Gillard.
Dean Mighell, Victorian State Secretary, Vice President at Electrical Trades Union of Australia, spoke at the rally. He made some excellent points about workplace safety and, although the union rhetoric was in full flight to the audience of union members, his comments are worth noting.
Mighell notes that after a hundred years of unionism the fight for workplace safety continues and that still regulators have a level of resources that is inadequate to the task. His political disappointment with the Prime Minister’s approach to OHS is clear and he, legitimately, uses the deaths of four workers who were installing insulation as an example of a flawed understanding of workplace safety.
Below is an audio recording of Mighell’s presentation. Note that there are several swear words in the speech.