Olympics 2016: Unions pay tribute to the workers killed and injured at Olympic worksites


On July 28th, 2016, trade unions from all over Brazil and researchers gathered to pay tribute to the families of workers who have become victims of fatal accidents or serious injury in the works of the Olympics 2016. Between 2013 and 2016, eleven workers lost their lives and three were seriously injured in the preparation of the city of Rio de Janeiro to host the Olympic Games. 

"Each one of these deaths is our failure,” according to Elaine Castillo, auditor of the Regional Superintendence of Labour and Employment of Rio de Janeiro (SRTE-RJ). 

The ceremony is part of the Campaign for Decent Work towards and beyond 2016, organized by the Building and Workers Wood International (BWI) with its affiliated unions. The campaign aims to improve working conditions in preparation for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and to push the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to include the Fundamental Principles of Rights at Work of the International Labour Organization (ILO) on the requirements for a city hosting the Games. 

"The unions are fighting for better wages and benefits, but the most important struggle is for workers lives,” said Nilson Duarte Costa, president of SITRAICP. The director of SINTRACONST RIO Nerivaldo Mendonça proposed a minute of silence in tribute to the victims during the event. 

The tribute was organized by the BWI in partnership with the Center of Workers’ Health and Human Ecology Studies (CESTEH/ENSP /FIOCRUZ), the Intermunicipal Trade Union of Workers in the Construction of Rio de Janeiro (SITRAICP), the Workers Union of Building Industries of Rio de Janeiro (SINTRACONST-RIO) and the Trade Union of Science, Technology, Production and Innovation in Public Health Employees(Asfoc-SN). 

According to Nilton Freitas, BWI Regional Representative for Latin America and the Caribbean, "This is also a meeting of those who are willing to fight so accidents like those will not repeat." Katia Reis, CESTEH Coordinator, after welcome the participants, stressed "Health is not given, it is conquered." 

The event also included representatives of the victims’ family. Alan Real, brother of Thiago Real, 30 years old, who died crushed by a truck in the works of Highway Transolímpica said "where is the International Olympic Committee, the IOC? Not a word of comfort or sympathy, a simple ‘I'm sorry’ .... nothing! ". During the ceremony a tree was planted and a plaque in honor of the workers and their families was unveiled.