Congress General Secretary Patricia King’s tribute to workers on International Workers’ Memorial Day

We are living through extraordinary days and months. Workers and their families have to keep going in the midst of a pandemic that has claimed many lives, undermined our economy and left many workers laid off or unemployed.

Today is International Workers’ Memorial Day, a day when we commemorate all those workers who have died in the workplace. There is added poignancy to this remembrance when we pause to reflect on the fact that over 1,000 people have fallen victim to the Coronavirus.

Workers are the backbone of our economy, but they are very often taken for granted, undervalued, underpaid and ignored when they seek their fair share.

There are those on the frontline including, nurses, doctors, health support staff, cleaners, carers, scientists, technicians, support staff in our laboratories, emergency services, ambulance workers and shop workers, who daily risk their lives to ensure that we can go on living in the new circumstances in which we find ourselves . Our country also continues to function because of our public servants and all other essential workers, ordinary people, making extraordinary sacrifices, who turn up at their desks or places of work each day and get on with their jobs.

On this day it is worth remembering that last year 46 people were killed in workplace accidents in Ireland.  Many more suffered life-changing injuries and were  affected by occupational illnesses. Some of these may eventually prove fatal while countless others suffer from both physical and psycho-social disorders arising from their work.

The COVID-19 outbreak has shown us how vulnerable we are to an epidemic and how devastating the effects can be: on life, on society, on our economy. Our world is changing in a way that had never been envisaged and when life slowly returns to some new “normal” workers must have a new paradigm based on equality, universal public services in a sustainable economy,  we need to build a safe and secure future for all.

Alongside our commemoration therefore, we also try to use the day to create awareness and to commit ourselves to creating safer workplaces.  This pandemic  crisis has demonstrated, as never before, the importance of protecting the safety, health and welfare of all people, whether at home or in the workplace.

Trade unions have been the crucial force in the past in protecting workers and raising the bar to ensure people can return home safe and well after their day’s work. There is no room for complacency and we need to continue this work.

Today, as we commemorate all those who died in our workplaces and as a result of COVID-19  we  invite the people of Ireland to light a candle at 9pm in memory of them all.  Please also post a photo or message on your chosen social media platform.


Editors Note: Live YouTube feed on at 11am today 28/04/2020

Direct YouTube link is at

Contact: Conor Kavanagh, Congress Communications Office, 086 811 6607