Dead and injured workers honoured
The late Helen Kelly, a former Council of Trade Union president who died of lung cancer in October aged 52, will be commemorated in Palmerston North during Friday’s Workers’ Memorial Day.
Public Service Association Manawatu union organiser John Shennan said a plaque commemorating Kelly will be dedicated during the annual memorial service to workers who have lost their lives, or suffered accidents and industry-related illnesses while on the job.
The lunchtime service at the Fitzroy St Workers’ Memorial in Terrace End’s Memorial Park will see Kelly’s plaque unveiled by her husband Steve Hurring and her son Dylan.
‘‘Helen was a great champion of industrial health and safety, supporting our activities and attending rallies in support of workers at the AFFCO Talley’s plant in Feilding and the CMP meatworks lock-out in Marton,’’ Shennan said.
‘‘She put a lot of time into helping local workers through these disputes, and we felt it was appropriate to recognise her and her work on health and safety issues, and also for keeping pressure on the Government over [New Zealand’s] horrific industrial safety record.’’
That pressure resulted in the government introducing new health and safety regulations, Shennan said.
Friday’s ceremony will be attended by city mayor Grant Smith and regular Memorial Day speaker, bishop emeritus Peter Cullinane.
‘‘We’re pleased the city council has come alongside to help us organise the plaque.
‘‘Workers’ Memorial Day is an international event held under the auspices of the United Nations. Its purpose is to challenge New Zealanders to see workplace health and safety as a crucial issue.’’
Shennan said organisers of the service had been pleased with attendance in recent years by the members of families, especially from farming families who had lost someone to an industrial accident, which included quad bike deaths.
Those attending on Friday will have the opportunity to place pieces of coal from the Pike River mountain range on the memorial cairn, in memory of the 29 miners who died in New Zealand’s worst workplace accident of recent times. Local group The Brazen Hussies will be performing the songs Union Maid and Bread and Roses.
Union organiser John Shennan speaks at last year’s Workers’ Memorial Day service.
Helen Kelly, a former President of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions.