Each year on the 28th April trade unions around the world organise events to celebrate International Workers’ Memorial Day. This year, the BWI is pleased to confirm the international theme “Unions Make Work Safer.”
Considerable responsibility falls on trade unions to ensure that employers take steps to avoid health risks and save workers’ lives as workers continue to be killed, injured and made sick whilst carrying out routine jobs. The hazards are well known and so are the prevention measures. The overwhelming majority of “accidents” are absolutely predictable and preventable. They are caused by failure to manage risks, or by straightforward negligence on the part of the employer.
Against this background, BWI affiliates all over the world are encouraged to campaign and pick up one or several sub themes hereunder:
- cement, construction and wood: “One death is too many”. BWI’s recent survey on cement stresses that 83% of fatalities in the cement sector are taking place in subcontracted operations. 30% of the cement plants surveyed report at least one death over the last 3 years and 60% recognize occupational diseases. Figures that contrast with managerial practices since 20% of the plants still do not have regular medical visits for workers. In construction and wood industries, for almost all key risks – chemicals, dusts, manual handling, physical hazards, and psychosocial hazards – exposures are routine and excessive. Sawmills are by far the most dangerous workplaces, and are increasingly subcontracted and informal, leading to deteriorating conditions for workers.
- migrants: “No to xenophobia at work”. In many countries throughout the world, migrant workers are faced with unsafe, dirty, and dangerous working conditions. At the same time, they fall victim to racism and xenophobia particularly more so due to the rise of anti-migrant and xenophobic rhetoric.
- women: “No to gender based violence at work”. More than 35% of women worldwide have experienced physical and/or sexual violence. Between 40% and 50% of women experience unwanted sexual advances, physical contact or other forms of sexual harassment at work.
- asbestos kills: “Ban asbestos – the killer dust”. At least 100,000 people die from asbestos diseases every year, according to international estimates. The real figure is certainly even higher than that as there is no reliable recording of the medical cases in many countries. Furthermore, many victims do not know that they were exposed to asbestos and, because of the long time lag between exposure and the emergence of the symptoms, asbestos diseases are not correctly diagnosed, treated, compensated or, most importantly, prevented.
Please ensure you send us the details of your planned activities, any resources and artwork you produce for 28 April 2017. You are invited to send them to us by email firstname.lastname@example.org
We will post all these materials on the BWI website.
Amandla! Power to the Workers.