Pakistan: NTUF representatives press conference for Asbestos ban

List Chrysotile Asbestos in PIC List

Ban Asbestos NOW!

Press Conference (Date – 28th April, 2017) Karachi, Pakistan.

Activists urge the Pakistan Government to Ban all forms of asbestos and allow listing of chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous substance at an upcoming UN meeting.

We Trade Union activists and workers from asbestos industries including ship breaking industry among others called on the Government of Pakistan to institute a mechanism for immediate and urgent ban on all forms of asbestos in the country along with listing of Chrysotile Asbestos as a hazardous substance at the upcoming Rotterdam convention to be held from 2nd May in Geneva.

In the previous conference held in 2015, Pakistan had sided along with a few countries including Russia, Kazakhstan, India, Kyrghyzstan, and Zimbabwe to oppose the listing of Chrysotile asbestos in the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) list. Adding a substance in this list does not mean that the substance is banned but it only ensures that the importing country receives all information regarding the hazards of that substance.

Considering the public health disaster caused by Chryotile Asbestos, 55 countries have banned any use of asbestos. Although, there is some mining of asbestos fibers in the country, however a large quantity of fibers is imported from countries like Russia, Brazil and Kazakhstan. As per data from the USGS, Pakistan imported over 2800 MT of asbestos fibers in 2015. Between 2009 and 2012, more than 35000 tones of fibers were consumed. This vast amount of fiber which will eventually be placed in the homes of large number of people, will lead to an epidemic of diseases caused due to asbestos.

To compound the problem, there are no statistics or data regarding the number of workers suffering from Asbestos related disorders. The main reason for this is absence of trained doctors.  There is no systematic monitoring and reporting of asbestos related diseases (ARD) in Pakistan. The government should make serious enough efforts to start survey on it.

In ship-breaking industry, cement producing, pipe manufacturing units and construction sites are main site where workers most exposed to the hazardous substance.

Nasir Mansoor, deputy general secretary of National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) said “while the whole world is progressively moving towards banning Asbestos, in striking contrast Pakistan has been increasing imports of the deadly Chrysotile Asbestos. We urge the Pakistan Government not to turn a blind eye towards the long-term hazards related to Asbestos usage and exposure”.

We therefore request Government of Pakistan to

  1.       Enable listing of Chrysotile asbestos in the UN hazardous substances list in the upcoming Conference in May 2017, so that the trading countries have a prior knowledge about the health implications of Chrysotile asbestos before importing it.
  2.       Place a ban on all forms of asbestos in Pakistan.
  3.       Undertake a survey of all workers (current and former) of factories and mines using asbestos fibres to comprehensively identify victims of asbestos related diseases.
  4.       Institute a framework to identify / use alternate products to replace asbestos

Press conference was address by Muhammad Rafiq Baloch, President NTUF, Nasir Mansoor, deputy general secretary NTUF, Bashir Mehmoodani, President Ship breaking Mazdoor Union Gadani, Riaz Abbasi Altas Group companies Worker Union.

Nasir A Masoor
Deputy General Secretary
National Trade Union Federation Pakistan (NTUF).
(IndustriALL Global Union affiliate)
R-16 Al Hilal Cooperative Housing Society 4-5, KDA Scheme 7, Karachi,Pakistan.
ph: +92 21 34122282, Fax +92 21 37075324
Mobile: +92 300 358 7211
www.ntufpak.org

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *