Helen Kelly remembered
A special Workers’ Memorial Day tribute in Palmerston North to the late Helen Kelly drew a sizeable lunchtime gathering to the Fitzroy St monument.
Kelly, a former Council of Trade Union president who died of lung cancer in October 2016 aged 52, was remembered during the annual international day on Friday, which is dedicated to workers killed, injured or made ill at work.
A plaque in her honour was unveiled on the city commemorative stone by her husband Steve Hurring and son Dylan Kelly.
Hurring described his wife as a tireless worker who not only inspired those she worked with, but who also encouraged and inspired them to speak out on issues - among them workers’ rights, and medical marijuana.
‘‘We’re very humbled and honoured on Helen’s behalf that Manawatu decided to dedicate its Workers’ Memorial Day to [her].
‘‘It’s a testament to how highly regarded Helen was, along with her work in the cause of workers’ health and safety,’’ Hurring said.
The simple plaque, installed on the memorial stone at Memorial Park with the help of the Palmerston North City Council, was inscribed with the words: ‘‘We remember Helen Kelly, 1964 - 2016, a champion of workers’ health and safety’’.
Kelly’s son Dylan said his mother would be the first to say that the things she did were not about her.
‘‘Her legacy was about empowering people and showing people what they were capable of.’’
The permanence of the memorial would have been a marker to his mother of how successful she had been in encouraging people to fight for their rights and for what they needed, he said.
Other speakers alluded to the unacceptably high death and injury rate in New Zealand workplaces.
During two weeks of April seven Kiwi workers had died on the job, bringing the year’s total workplace deaths so far to 10.
Three hundred and four workers had died at work in New Zealand since 2011. Twenty two of those had been from Manawatu - Whanganui.
Lees-Galloway said New Zealand’s workplace safety record compared poorly with other OECD countries, and that Kelly had made a valuable contribution to Labour’s forthcoming workplace relations policy.
The unveiling of Helen Kelly memorial plaque in Palmerston North with Kelly’s husband Steve Hurring (left) and son Dylan Kelly.