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Commemoration of the 64th anniversary of the Marcinelle disaster (8th August) – Message from Minister Di Maio

Dear compatriots, on the occasion of the 64th anniversary of the Marcinelle tragedy in Belgium, I would like to recall the 262 miners who lost their lives in the Bois du Cazier on 8th August 1956: among them, 136 were Italian. Since 2001, Italy has commemorated with the ” National Day of Italian Labour Sacrifices in the World ” all the Italian workers who disappeared while carrying out their profession.

This year, because of COVID-19 pandemic, we honour the memory of the tragedy of Marcinelle in a condition of physical distance, but of great closeness and solidarity.

The current health emergency has also seen the sacrifice of those who, in Italy and abroad, lost their lives while they were dedicating themselves to their work, as well as to voluntary and support activities. I am thinking of doctors, nurses, health personnel and all those who have worked for months without stopping, paying with the price of their lives the help given to others and to our society as a whole.

In 1956, the sacrifice of the Bois du Cazier pushed the governments of the countries participating in the nascent European integration to put workers’ safety and health at the centre of the projects that would later form the foundations of the common European house.

The promotion of fair, protected and sustainable work must also be at the centre of our response to the serious economic and social consequences of the health crisis. Italy – a founding member of the EU and of the International Labour Organisation – intends to continue to pursue this issue at European and international level.

Only the companies that guarantee the right to work and income security can make progress. For a real progress, work and workers must receive the right protection. And this also applies to all compatriots who have left Italy throughout our history to emigrate abroad in search of fulfilment. Their rights and their protection acquire even more value, given the many difficulties they have had to endure.

Italian emigration around the world has always shown the talent, dedication and professionalism of our compatriots.

Today my thoughts and my closeness are for the families of Marcinelle’s victims, to the families of all Italian victims who have fallen at work, to those who lost their lives during the pandemic, to the loved ones of those who have honoured the image of Italy in the world with their sacrifice.