Every year, on April 28, we honour and remember the people who have died or been seriously injured at work by commemorating the International Day of Mourning.
This year, CUPW mourns Brother Godfrey Yeung and Sister Theresa Griffith, postal workers who died after getting sick with COVID-19.
Over the last 13 months, CUPW members have worked hard to protect everyone from COVID-19. It is because of the efforts of CUPW members locally, regionally, and nationally that we have not seen more COVID-19 workplace outbreaks.
The CUPW private sector bargaining unit members also took strong steps to keep themselves safe during this pandemic.
Gig workers, many of whom continued to deliver food and other items to people’s houses, undertook extensive efforts to ensure they could work safely.
COVID-19 has also made us more aware of the dangers we face in our workplaces, and of the safety of the workers who keep everyone strong, healthy, fed and connected. It has made us appreciate the value and strength we have as workers and the importance of having strong health and safety protections, and determined health and safety advocates. There is so much about this pandemic that we cannot control, but our behaviours are not one of them. Health and safety measures are in place in our workplaces to keep workers safe, and it’s up to all of us to respect them – for our safety, our co-workers’ safety, and our families and communities.
On April 28, 2021, we struggle to understand the high number of deaths in our communities due to COVID 19. While COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on all of us, it has particularly harmed frontline and essential workers, Indigenous people, and Black and racialized communities.
My heart goes out to the families, co-workers and friends of people who have died due to COVID 19.
I also want to take this time to acknowledge the stress that CUPW members have been under over the past year. I know that for many of you, working through the pandemic has been hard and has forever changed you.
The International Day of Mourning is not only a day to remember and honour those lives lost or injured due to a workplace tragedy, but also a day for CUPW to renew our commitment to improve health and safety in the workplace and prevent further injuries, illnesses, and deaths.
Too many CUPW members are still getting injured at work. Despite our best efforts, Canada Post continues to have the highest injury rate of all industries in the federal sector.
A safe workplace also includes a workplace free of harassment, bullying, and violence. We must continue to ensure that our employers provide us with a safe workplace.
I invite all CUPW members to join me today in pausing to remember workers killed and those who still suffer from a work-related injury or illness — their lives and livelihoods forever compromised.
We will continue to fight for them and all workers. Remember, an injury to one in an injury to all.