2024: International Workers' Memorial Day

  • 26 Apr 2024

The message of International Workers’ Memorial Day on Sunday 28 April is to remember the dead and fight for the living.

According to the Health and Safety Executive, 135 people were killed in work-related accidents in the UK in 2022/23. Last year, the International Federation of Journalists listed 120 journalists and media workers who had been killed and this year the total during the war in Gaza has reached more than 100. Those who died are listed on  the IFJ’s website.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:

“No story is worth a person’s life, but all too often journalists find themselves literally in the line of fire when carrying out their work. They endure dangerous conditions to cover wars and conflicts, they shine a light into places political despots and criminal gangs prefer kept dark and expose wrongdoings and corruption across the globe.

“The death toll, now more than 100 in Gaza, is all the more shocking because we believe journalists are being directly targeted by the Israeli Defence Forces. That is why we are calling for an immediate investigation by the International Criminal Court to ensure all incidents of the targeting of journalists constituting war crimes under international law are properly investigated.

“On IWMD we will be mourning the deaths of our journalist colleagues in Palestine and extending sympathy to their families. We will continue to work with International Federation of Journalists and the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate to provide protection and provisions for the press working in unimaginable situations and suffering enormous privations. That’s why we thank members, chapels and branches for their generosity so far, but ask for further donations to the IFJ safety fund.

“We again call for the release of all hostages and for both sides to agree to a permanent ceasefire to ensure attacks on journalists and all civilians comes to an end.

“As the IFJ’s list of media workers killed grows by the week, we continue to argue with the UN for an international, legally binding convention to protect the safety and independence of journalists and to recognise that media workers face greater risks when compared to other civilians.

“On the home front, workers in the UK and Ireland are sustaining fatal injuries while doing their jobs. That is why we are working with the Trade Union Congress and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions to fight for workers’ rights and safety, and lobby for greater protections while supporting the vital role of unions’ health and safety reps on the ground.”

Others who have lost their lives while doing their jobs this year include: Pakistani journalist, Sagheer Ahmed Laar, was killed on 14 March after unidentified men opened fire on him outside a pharmacy in Punjab; Abdikarin Ahmed Bulhan, a reporter for Somali National Television (SNTV), was killed on 13 March in the Abudwak district of the Galguduud region in central Somalia when an armed security guard shot and fatally wounded him at his workplace; Western News journalist Myat Thu Tan was shot dead by military personnel on 31 January along with seven other political prisoners jailed by Myanmar’s ruling junta.

The NUJ has just commemorated the fifth anniversary of the death of Lyra McKee shot dead while observing a riot in Northern Ireland in 2019.

The union is campaigning for an independent, international investigation into the murder of Martin O’Hagan, the Sunday World investigative journalist who was killed in 2001 by a loyalist paramilitary group. No one has been held responsible for his death.

Seamus Dooley, NUJ Irish Secretary, said:

“For NUJ members in Ireland the failure of the authorities to properly investigate the murder of Martin O’Hagan continues to cast a long shadow. We have been disappointed at the lack of engagement on this issue by successive Irish governments. We will be writing to the new Taoiseach Simon Harris asking him to support our campaign for an independent investigation into the murder of Martin O’Hagan. He was a passionate trade unionist and would have strongly supported our campaign highlighting the attacks on Palestinian journalists."

"At 6pm on Monday NUJ members will gather on the steps of the Hugh Lane Gallery, close to the Garden of Remembrance, to remember journalists killed in Gaza and to highlight the plight of journalists denied the right to work in the region.

"Monday also marks the inaugural Trade Union Week in Ireland under the theme Better in a Trade Union and we will be highlighting the importance role of unions in promoting health and safety at work.”

On IWMD the union will also remember its former member, Dom Phillips, and his colleague, Bruno Pereira, who were killed in the Amazon while researching the impact of illegal mining, logging and fishing in the rainforest in 1922.

Ireland:  events on Monday 29 April

In the 10-year period between 2014 and 2023, 459 people died in work-related incidents In Ireland and many thousands more were severely injured or made ill. In 2023 alone, 43 people died.

Owen Reidy, general secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Conor O’Brien, CEO of the Health & Safety Authority, and Minister of State, Neale Richmond TD, will lay a wreath on behalf of the State to remember those lost workers on Monday 29 April at the Garden of Remembrance, Parnell Square, Dublin 1 from 9.30-10.30.

At 12 noon there will be a minute’s silence in workplaces for media workers killed in Gaza over past 7 months.

At 6m,  NUJ members will gather outside the Hugh Lane Gallery, Parnell Square, to publicly remember journalists killed in the Israeli-Palestinian war.


IWMD wreaths laid in in Princes Street Gardens

© Hilary Horrocks

The toll of journalists’ lives worldwide in the past year, including the unprecedented slaughter in Gaza, was a key theme of the International Workers Memorial Day commemoration in Edinburgh on 28 April, organised by Edinburgh Trade Union Council and Scottish Hazards. Nick McGowan-Lowe, NUJ national organiser for Scotland, said journalists believed injustice should be exposed, but "the grim list of media workers killed while doing their job was horrific". Nick highlighted the deaths of over 100 media workers in Gaza and saluted the work of the NUJ’s sister organisation the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate. Their members were the only sources of coverage in their neighbourhoods – a responsibility for which they continue to pay a terrible price. In the first two months of the war, the death toll of journalists had been higher than the total media casualties during 20 years of conflict in Vietnam. The NUJ Edinburgh branch joined many local trade union representatives in laying commemorative wreaths at the foot of the memorial tree in Princes Street Gardens for those killed or injured at work.


Last year in Wales, 15 people sustained fatal injuries at work. This year the International Labour Organization will link its commemoration with the increased risk faced by workers caused by climate change. In 2022, Wales experienced severe heatwaves in June, July and August, which saw a rise in grass and forest fires. In February 2020, Storm Dennis hit south Wales and the region’s fire service took 1,400 calls in 12 hours.

Wales TUC has established a health, safety and workplace regulation committee which raises issues of national importance with the Welsh government and regulators. Current important topics include sexual harassment and concerns about safety at workplaces where large amounts of hazardous materials are stored. If you’re interested in contributing the committee’s work, contact Ceri Williams at [email protected]

The NUJ's Health and Safety Council said: “April 28 is International Workers Memorial Day, a day to remember those who have died at work and to fight for #zerodeathsatwork. We join with other trade unions to remember the dead and fight for the living.” 


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