28 April 2020
Today is International Workers’ Memorial Day - an annual day commemorated by the labour movement around the world to remember those who have lost their lives at work, as well as those left disabled, injured or made unwell.
It is a day we recommit ourselves to making workplaces safer.
International Workers’ Memorial Day is particularly pertinent in 2020 in the wake of the coronavirus and the risks inherent for our frontline workforces.
“This worldwide pandemic has highlighted to many the unwavering dedication health professionals have to providing care in the most challenging of environments,’’ said ANMF (SA Branch) CEO/Secretary Adj. Associate Professor Elizabeth Dabars AM.
“As frontline healthcare workers care for patients with COVID-19, they commit themselves to difficult, draining work and also put themselves at risk of infection.
“Tragically hundreds throughout the world have died. We must remember them and the ultimate sacrifice they have made as part of their work and vocation,’’ Ms Dabars said.
“Fortunately, in Australia, infection rates remain relatively low but we too have seen nurses, aged care workers and others contract COVID-19 in the course of their work. Our thoughts and best wishes are with them for a speedy recovery.
“We have been working closely with SA Health and employers to ensure the safety of our members. No-one should have to go to work feeling unsafe.
“PPE has been a recurring issue that has caused significant anxiety here in Australia and also overseas.
“Adequate supply and guidance on the use of PPE is paramount to protecting health professionals. This remains a top priority for us and we will continue to monitor this situation closely.
“I would also like to take a moment to highlight some of the other issues facing nurses, midwives and personal care workers.
“Sadly, violence is still a major concern. We have heard too many stories of health care professionals being attacked while at work or when arriving or leaving. This is simply unacceptable.
“We will continue to advocate for initiatives to be put in place to protect people from violence at work.
“Fatigue is another issue that places people in danger. I feel greatly saddened when I hear of people doing 16-hour shifts with only a few hours’ break before having to head back into work. It provides an ample environment for mistakes to happen and for accidents to occur when travelling to and from work.
“The extraordinary circumstances that COVID-19 has brought upon us can easily see these issues exacerbated.
“However, I am humbled by the commitment that our members have shown to their work and the care of the community. I have witnessed them put their safety second to care for others. This is why the role of unions is so important. We are able to advocate on their behalf to make sure their safety is put first by their employers, policy makers and governments.
“Afterall, if you do not take care of the carers, who will be there to look after us.
“Thank you to our health care professionals. Look after yourselves and each other.’’