Category Archives: 2019

Global: BWI sends a 28 April “No more deaths!” message to Lafarge-Holcim

Our campaign demanding LafargeHolcim respect workers’ rights continues.

It’s time to send management a message on 28 April, International Workers Memorial Day: Health and safety is every worker’s right, and this is Trade Union Business!

More than 150 people were killed working in LafargeHolcim (LH) in 2015-2016. In 2017, there were 65 deaths. During this period LH had 135,000 employees, by 2018 the number of direct employees had been dramatically reduced to fewer than 80,000.

We note with growing frustration, that in 2018, preventable fatal injuries in LH have continued unabated. LH management continued to behave negligently, because they did not comply with safety laws or international standards in several cases that led to the deaths of workers. Victims were almost all contracted or third-party workers. Workers were killed on the job in Cameroon, Guinea, Morocco, Iraq, Nigeria, Uganda; Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico; India and the Philippines; France, Russia and the United Kingdom. Three were killed in Colombia and in the Philippines. Five were killed in Iraq and in Uganda, and nine were killed in India.

This horrific death toll is just a tip of the iceberg, since LH are exposing thousands of workers to substances that in the long run will cause ill health and even premature death.

Going to work at the beginning of the shift and returning home alive and healthy is the most fundamental right of workers. We have to tell LafargeHolcim: Enough is Enough! Respect workers’ rights on health and safety! Trade Unions mean safe work!

Join the Campaign on April 28 by conducting global actions. These include worksite meetings, workplace health and safety inspections and training meetings, as well as campaign press conferences, producing banners and leaflets, work stoppages, memorial services, or demonstrations.

This year, the 28th falls on a Sunday, so workplace activities can be any working day around that date. What’s most important is not HOW you participate, it’s that you DO participate. The more workers and unions that participate, the stronger the message we will send to LafargeHolcim management that workers want a say on health and safety!


Campaign materials:

Indonesia: 28 April interview with Serbuk member Ardan aka Kiting


I am Kiting from Indonesian Construction Workers Union (SBKI) and I am an informal worker

I hope for K3 (Occupational Safety and Health / OSH) to be the main issue because K3 is a human right and therefore can not create a safe workplace

BWI affiliates can make the K3 related issues their key issue


Je suis Kiting du SBKI (syndicat des travailleurs de la construction en indonésie, membre du SERBUK) et je suis un travailleur informel.

Depending on the quotes, there are questions on the santé et la sécurité au travail (SST; également appélée K3 en Indonésie), the principal author of the mondial car il s’agit d’un droit humain, à même de garantir la sécurité du lieu de travail.

J’espère que tous les affiliés de l’IBB pourront faire de la K3 leur priorityité absolue.

Longue vie au SERBUK.


Soy Kiting, del SBKI (Sindicato Indonesio de Trabajadores de la Construcción, miembro de SERBUK) y soy un trabajador informal.

Espero que el K3 (cuestiones sobre salud y seguridad ocupacional) sea el principal as well as el mundo entero porque el K3 es and Derecho Humano y, por lo tanto, el K3 puede lograr un lugar de trabajo seguro.

Misperanza es que to dos los afiliados de la ICM puedan hacer que las cuestiones en torno al K3 se conviertan en su tema clave.

¡Qué viva SERBUK!


I’m Kiting from the Indonesian Construction Union SBKI (a member of SERBUK) and I work in an informal employment relationship.

I hope that health and safety at work (health and safety at work, Keselamatan dan Kesehatan Kerja or K3) will become a major issue around the world, because health and safety is a human right and therefore K3 can contribute to a safe workplace.

My hope is that all BWI affiliates will prioritize K3-related topics.

Long live SERBUK

United Kingdom: Safe work is a right not a privilege

Safe work is a right not a privilege. International Workers’ Memorial Day, held on 28 April every year, brings together workers and their representatives from all over the world to remember the dead and fight for the living. Unite the union has published a Facebook album containing photos from several of their numerous 28 April activities across the UK.

Unite Workers’ Memorial Day webpage


Canada: Paper and related workers start year long safety campaign on 28 April

United Steelworkers

Global unions target safety at work in pulp, paper, graphical and packaging in a year of action

Leeann Foster,, 412-225-5964
Jess Kamm Broomell,, 412-562-2444

Workers in the pulp, paper, graphical and packaging sectors, represented globally by IndustriALL Global Union and UNI, are using this 2019 Workers Memorial Day to kick off a yearlong campaign around the three fundamental worker rights needed to make work safe: (1) The Right to Know – workers must know the hazards and risks in their workplace; (2) The Right to Act (commonly known as the Right to Refuse Unsafe Work Without Punishment); and (3) the Right to Participate in the programs and structures that manage safety in the workplace.  Each of these Rights will be highlighted with action by workers across the global pulp, paper, graphical and packaging sectors.

May and June 2019 will focus on a Worker’s Right to Know. Right-to-Know laws typically focus on a worker’s right to know the hazardous substances and dangerous chemicals they work with, but workers require information on so much more that could endanger them at work.  Workers require:

  • Information on all workplace hazard information, including dangerous chemicals and materials but also hazardous tools, equipment, work processes and the way work is organized;
  • An accurate evaluation of hazards.  Where gaps in knowledge exist they should be filled;
  • Hazard and risk assessment done with workers participation.  The only people with the moral authority to assess a risk are those who must face it;
  • This means industrial hygiene surveys belong to workers.  Toxicology studies belong to workers.  Ergonomic surveys belong to workers.

“We invite the global pulp, paper and packaging sectors to work with workers and their representatives to fully facilitate the right to know and, by doing so, build safer and healthier workplaces, “ said Joaquina Rodriguez, president of UNI Graphical and Packaging.

“All health and safety standards exist because of trade union action and we invite the pulp, paper, graphical and packaging industries to share information and build safety programs together with their workers who know the work and its hazards better than anyone else, “ said Leeann Foster, IndustriALL Pulp and Paper Working Group Co-Chair and Assistant to the International President at the  United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union (USW).

Similar international mobilizations will be conducted in September/October 2019 around the Right to Act and focusing March/April 2020 on the Right to Participate, culminating with Workers Memorial Day 2020.

Workers Memorial Day, observed by unions across the globe on April 28 of each year, is dedicated to remembering those who have suffered and died on the job and to renew the struggle for safe jobs.  Worldwide, more than 380,000 workers die tragically at work each year, and another 2.4 million die from work-related illness.

The pulp, paper, graphical and packaging sectors are extremely dangerous, with a number of fatalities and even more life-altering injuries occurring across the globe annually. Transparency with workers on information relating to their health and safety and employer engagement with workers and their unions is fundamental to address loss of life and limb in the industry.

The two international unions, IndustriALL Global Union and UNI, bring together unions on all continents across these four industries. See more on the two global union websites: and

Canada: ILWU – Kill a worker, go to Jail

On Sunday, the Day of Mourning, ILWU remembered the brothers we lost on the job this year: Everett Cummings and Don Jantz.

#NationalDayOfMourning #KillAWorkerGoToJail

Kenya: 28 April safety campaign to organise printing works in Nairobi

BWI Kenya affiliates (KUPRIPUPA, KQMWU, UNRISK and KBCTFIEU) organized a workplace campaign at Inter label printing industry in Nairobi on 25th April to sensitize the workers on health and safety and strengthen the OHS committee.

Jordan: Union leaders discuss migrant worker safety issues at a meeting to mark 28 April

In Jordan, the BWI affiliate GTUCW celebrated International Workers’ Memorial Day in Amman on the 26th April with a meeting of the union’s leadership on the safety and health issues concerning migrant workers.

USA: ADAO Joins Forces to “Pray for the Dead and Fight Like Hell for the Living” for International Workers Memorial Day on April 28

“Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living! “Mother Jones

ADAO joins individuals, trade unions, and organizations around the world for International Workers Memorial Day on April 28, 2019 for those who have been injured or killed on the job For decades, unions and NGOs like The Hazard Campaign and AFL-CIO have commemorated this important day with activities and awareness events around the world where people are uniting, taking a stand, and making sure their voices are heard.

AFL-CIO said, “On April 28, the unions of the AFL-CIO observe Workers’ Memorial Day to remember those who have suffered and died on the job and to renew the fight for safe jobs. It is a day where working people come together to call for action on hazards that cause unnecessary injury, illness and death. We will stand united against the ongoing attacks on workers’ rights and protections and demand that elected officials put workers’ well-being above corporate interests.”

The Hazards Campaign has produced a variety of Workers’ Memorial Day resources to support unions and activists with their April 28 event planning including stickers, posters, purple ribbons, high-visibility WMD jackets, and a new poster for #IWMD19.

According to the World Health Organization, “125 million people in the world are exposed to asbestos at the workplace.” Armed with the facts, we know that knowledge is stronger than asbestos. Through our continued efforts to prevent exposure to asbestos including our recent Asbestos Awareness Week April 1-7 and the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbesto Now Act of 2019 (ARBAN)– we hope to prevent the needless deaths of individuals both in and out of the workplace.

With support from the Hazard Campaign, AFL-CIO, the American Public Health Association (APHA) and 11 other public health and occupational safety organizations, ADAO is confident in ARBAN’s success and an asbestos free future for workers across America.

To follow the conversation online, follow the hashtag #IWMD19. You can also help by signing the petition to ban asbestos now without any loopholes or exemptions, and keep workers safe from the dangers of asbestos.

In solidarity,

Linda Reinstein
Social Networks

ADAO Joins Forces to “Pray for the Dead and Fight Like Hell for the Living” for International Workers Memorial Day on April 28

Canada: Un seul, c’est un de trop : personne ne devrait mourir au travail – AFPC

Qui effectue un suivi?

Le 28 avril, Jour de deuil national, nous rendons hommage aux personnes décédées, blessées ou devenues malades en raison de leur travail.

Nous avons au quotidien l’occasion de prévenir les blessures et les décès en milieu de travail, mais nous ne pouvons le faire que si nous disposons des données nécessaires pour prendre nos décisions.

Au Canada, nous recueillons des statistiques sur de nombreux sujets, dont la météo, mais nous ne consignons pas avec précision les statistiques sur le nombre de personnes qui sont décédées en raison de leur travail. Par conséquent, nous ne tirons pas les leçons qui nous permettraient de prévenir de telles tragédies.

Aucun ministère ou organisme au Canada ne recense les cas de décès et d’accidents en milieu de travail; seule la Commission des accidents du travail compile ces données. Les 951 décès largement cités dans les statistiques de 2017 (la plus récente année disponible) de l’Association des commissions des accidents du travail du Canada (ACATC) ne devraient pas être le seul indice de référence pour déterminer le nombre de décès ou de blessures liés au travail. Les statistiques de l’ACATC tiennent uniquement compte des demandes d’indemnisation approuvées, et non du total réel des blessures et des décès survenus au cours d’une année donnée. Des recherches récemment effectuées au pays démontrent que le nombre de décès liés au travail pourrait être jusqu’à 10 à 13 fois plus élevé que celui indiqué dans les données officielles.

On peut conclure en l’absence de rapports que des milliers de cas de blessures et de décès ne figurent pas dans les statistiques sur la santé et la sécurité au travail. Il s’agit notamment de ceux des travailleuses et travailleurs sans couverture (les travailleurs autonomes, le personnel des banques, les travailleuses et travailleurs domestiques, de nombreux fermiers et travailleurs agricoles), des personnes décédées sur la route alors qu’elles se rendaient au travail ou en revenaient, des personnes qui se suicident à cause du stress, des cas de maladies professionnelles non approuvées, du personnel des clubs privés et des travailleurs temporaires ou sans papiers.

De plus, dans le secteur fédéral, lorsqu’une personne décède après avoir été exposée à un danger particulier, la commission d’indemnisation ne fournit pas l’analyse des causes fondamentales aux employeurs. Le coroner ne donne pas d’avis de décès à l’employeur, et la cause fondamentale de la blessure ou du décès n’est pas nécessairement prise en compte dans le programme de prévention des risques, ce qui est contraire à l’exigence. C’est comme si tout décès était un « accident ».

Mettons tout en œuvre pour que cette année 2019, le gouvernement du Canada commence à documenter et à utiliser avec précision les données probantes pour prévenir les blessures au travail et sauver des vies. Un seul, c’est un de trop : personne ne devrait mourir au travail!

Global: International Workers’ Memorial Day – making technology work for us, not against us

By Victor Figueroa, ITF strategic researcher

Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) are crucial issues for workers everywhere in the world. Over decades workers in different countries have won recognition for their right to work in safer environments. In some countries OSH regulations are a key tool in defending workers’ rights.

The 28 April is a day for workers everywhere to remember the struggles of the past, but also to project these struggles forward. For example, new technologies and work practices based on them are creating new challenges to worker health and safety, and new technologies also offer new opportunities to protect existing rights.

Amazon’s high-tech carrot and stick

This week I was in Spain discussing how new technology affects workers in Amazon facilities there and I was horrified at the level of control and the complete lack of consideration of worker well-being evident in the way tech is used in the warehouses. As a tech leader and a growing company, Amazon is a worrying example of the challenges that increasing numbers of workers will face in future, as monitoring and benchmarking technologies become more widespread.

Workers described to me how technology is being combined with company culture and intimidation to create a high-pressure environment rife with injuries and stress. ‘Power hours’ and ‘Ready, Steady, Go!’ systems are combined with positive exhortations (‘the kids won’t get their presents if we don’t smash this target!’) provide the carrots, while technology provides the stick to create a working environment where people are labouring at the limit of their endurance for hours and days at an end. The physical and mental toll is severe.

The Amazon workers spoke of operating under the supervision of algorithms that set the pace of work, with no-one knowing what the criteria being used were, or who had decided they were possible or reasonable. The actual work rate and the target work rate used to be displayed above some work stations, but managers found workers would slow down a bit if they were above the target rate, and so the indicator was removed. Workers work harder if they have no idea if they are meeting their targets. It helps to beat targets if managers and supervisors chivvy people along with the dreaded ‘estas flojo’ (you’re behind).

Over monitored, overworked

On top of this, chipped ID cards tell the system where workers are, and track them around the facility. Workers’ every movement is followed and team ‘leads’ or managers jump on the smallest infraction. Workers can lose two or three days’ pay for leaving a door ajar, for example. Workers also reported surveillance cameras in the changing rooms, but nobody knows who has access to the footage or what it is used for. It is another example of tech not being transparent to workers.

But technology does not just track the Amazon workers’ around the facility, it also conditions their work rate. Screens at workstations show where workers should put items, and scanners scan items as they are moved about. The algorithms decide what goes where when, and how long it should take you. The same movements are carried out again and again. One worker said, “it turns you into a robot and you are left numbed”. Workers in some workstations are literally in a cage for eight hours at a time with no social contact at all, in order to keep them away from the robots that bring them the shelves. “You could collapse in there and nobody would know” they said. One worker spent two months in the cages. “I wanted to die at the end of each shift”, they said.

The workers are carrying out hundreds, sometimes thousands of repetitions of the same movement in every shift, causing high rates of injury over time. The most common injuries are to wrists, hands and knees, although in some workstations it is back injuries. The company refuses to accept the injuries happen on the job, with managers accompanying workers reporting injuries while union reps are kept away. ‘You don’t want to work?’, some are asked by the managers. Workers say that they are utterly exhausted at the end of a shift, laughing bitterly at a question about whether they cycle to and from work: “I tell you, nobody wants to ride a bike after eight hours of that work.”

High-tech occupational health, safety and humanity

In this environment, technology is used to push people to the limits of their physical and emotional endurance. As such technology becomes more common it is vital that workers everywhere are defended by Occupational Safety and Health measures that prevent technology from applying arbitrary and inhumane work rates. Workers need to know what the rates are, and they should be able to change them. Workers need proper rest periods, particularly if they are working with screens and in isolation from others. And workers should have access to the data produced by monitoring and surveillance equipment so that they know what the tech is doing and what for.

Just as tech is used to monitor workers and force them to work harder, it could be used to monitor working conditions and protect workers from abuse. It all depends on who controls the tech and what it is used for.

Workers do not want digital overseers, we want tech that augments our capacities, that enables us to work better, not just harder. Amazon, are you listening?