Category Archives: 2023 global

Global: Call to strengthen global tools to limit trade in toxic chemicals – IUF #iwmd23

On April 28, International Workers Memorial Day, we mourn those killed at work and pledge to fight hard for the living by winning safer workplaces.

In 2022, the ILO’s International Labour Conference agreed to include the right to a safe and healthy workplaces as a fundamental right at work alongside the right to collective bargaining and freedom of association, equality, no forced labour and no child labour.

Exposure to pesticides regularly kills or destroys the health of thousands of agricultural workers. A shocking report in 2021 estimated that there are 385 million cases of unintentional, acute pesticide poisonings annually including 11,000 fatalities among farmers and farmworkers.

This year, the IUF is joining with global unions and national federations to demand more effective control of the international trade in hazardous chemicals. There are more than 350,000 chemicals circulating in the global economy, supposedly controlled by the Rotterdam Convention; however, the labour movement has been highly critical of the Convention for its weak procedure resulting in the failure to control paraquat and asbestos. Also concerning is the influence of the pesticides industry over the application of the Convention.

Currently, the Convention’s Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure for hazardous chemicals and pesticides ensures that countries exporting pesticides must seek the prior informed consent of the importing countries before shipping; however, to list products using the PIC procedure requires consensus. This requirement, initially introduced to foster cooperation, has instead evolved into a veto mechanism that is now threatening the viability and effectiveness of the Convention.  A small group of countries continue to block the listing of several highly hazardous substances.

In May 2023, the 11th Conference of Parties for the Rotterdam Convention will be meeting in Geneva, and the IUF along with sister global unions will be campaigning for the adoption of a new annex to the Convention which will allow parties who want to share information about a substance considered dangerous by the Chemical Review Committee to do so, even when the listing of the substance has been blocked by a failure to reach consensus. Listing on the new annex will require a 75% majority vote. Furthermore, for chemicals listed in the new Annex VIII, explicit prior informed consent will be required from the importing country before the hazardous substances can be shipped.

In addition to union support, the amendment is strongly supported by many countries and numerous experts including three UN Special Rapporteurs: Marcos Orellana, Special Rapporteur on toxics and human rights; David R. Boyd, Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment; and Pedro Arrojo-Agudo, Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation.

They have issued a joint statement which recognizes the importance of the Rotterdam Convention as a “tool to advance the right to information and effectively prevent exposure of people, soil, and water resources to toxics” but criticizes the procedure which allows a handful of countries to “persistently block the listing of hazardous chemicals.”

Click HERE to read the IUF’s press release.

“The breakdown of the science-policy interface mechanism in the Rotterdam Convention undermines the realization of the human right to science and the effectiveness of the instrument. Governments have a duty to align their policies with the best” available scientific evidence.
UN Special Rapporteurs statement

Rising to the occasion: Africa and Middle East unions want OHS right implemented

BWI affiliates across Africa and the Middle East (AME) celebrated this year’s International Workers’ Memorial Day together with unions from across the world under the theme ‘Make It Happen’. In an effort to celebrate and raise awareness of occupational health and safety (OHS) as a fundamental right and implement it in workplaces, affiliates were encouraged to conduct joint activities with employers and sister unions, hold thematic trainings and workshops, encourage the fulfillment of the “BWI OHS Joint Declarations,” and push further the campaign on various platforms.

True to form, unions in the region rose to the occasion. From 20 to 30 April, 21 BWI Africa and Middle East affiliates from 16 countries observed IWMD by visiting organised workplaces, conducting workplace inspections, convening thematic social dialogue meetings and OHS trainings, and hosting collaborative national conferences and seminars. Similarly, on 1 May, three trade unions demonstrated their commitment to the campaign by calling their respective governments and employers to recognise OHS as a fundamental right during national federation-led rallies and workers’ meetings in countries where they are based.

Global: 11 out of 38 OECD countries have ratified NEITHER of the two fundamental conventions on health and safety at work – #iwmd23

ILO Conventions 155 and 187 are classified as fundamental conventions – meaning that they are considered fundamental principles and basic rights, like the elimination of child and forced labour.

Despite their importance, neither convention has been ratified by 11 OECD countries! No G7 country – all OECD members – has ratified both Conventions.

“The OECD has a critical role to play in promoting workers’ health and safety”said Veronica Nilsson, Acting General Secretary of TUAC. “Ratification of ILO core conventions is a key step to ensure that all workers benefit from a safe and healthy working environment.”‘

“TUAC urges all OECD countries to ratify both conventions immediately.”

— Veronica Nilsson, Acting General Secretary of TUAC

“Ratifying universally agreed ILO fundamental conventions is also vital  to encourage responsible business conduct and ensure that workers’ fundamental rights are respected in OECD countries and throughout supply chains”  added Nilsson.

The OECD promotes occupational safety and health through a number of initiatives and committees, and in a number of including areas including air pollution, chemical hazards, risk management and labour market policies. The OECD also promotes responsible business conduct – and occupational health and safety is an obvious part of it.

‘Convention No. 155 on Occupational Safety and Health provides for the adoption of a coherent national occupational safety and health policy, as well as action to be taken by governments and within enterprises to promote occupational safety and health to improve working conditions.’–en/index.htm

‘Convention No. 187 is designed to provide for coherent and systematic treatment of occupational safety and health and promote recognition of existing conventions on occupational safety and health’–en/index.htm


Global: Organising for health and safety through OSH committees – #iwmd23


Last year unions around the world succeeded in making health and safety a fundamental right at the ILO, and now, workers are making that hard-fought victory a reality by organizing  for safer jobs – in particular organizing union health and safety committees.

On International Workers Memorial Day, 28 April, UNI Global Union remembers those who have lost their lives or suffered injuries at work, and we also redouble our commitment to preventing harm on the job. Occupational health and safety (OSH) committees are the first line of defence against unsafe conditions.

These committees have become more critical than ever in the aftermath of Covid-19. Even though the worst of the pandemic has hopefully passed, inadequate personal protective equipment, a rise in third-party violence, excessive hours, a punishing pace of work and growing strain on workers’ mental health are persistent, serious complications.

But workers have been fighting back, and through their unions, they are making their jobs safer.

Christy Hoffman, General Secretary of UNI Global Union, said:

“The cost-of-living crisis spurred a wave of strikes and workplace actions, but just as important, the pandemic reinvigorated organizing around health and safety.

“An untold number of workers either died or are suffering long-term consequences because they contracted the virus at work. But Covid is not the only serious hazard workers are facing. They are being pushed to the limit by employers who want more production in less time and for less wages. This squeeze takes a physical toll on workers’ bodies while the pressure frays mental health.

“That is why we are standing with unions everywhere to make work safer and strengthen health and safety committees. Work should be a source of dignity and empowerment not harm, disease and loss. One injury is too much, and one death is too many.”

Last year, UNI reached a breakthrough global agreement with outsourced customer service giant Teleperformance. The agreement includes the creation of elected union health and safety committees that will address issues of employees both on-site and remote workers. It provides for training of health and safety representatives and a process to identify and remediate any workplace hazards.

To address psycho-social risks, the agreement limits surveillance on the job by stating that monitoring will be “proportionate to business needs” and “respect the worker’s right to privacy.” Teleperformance will notify workers of how the company uses surveillance tools, like cameras and AI monitoring, as well as how the data is used to evaluate performance.

UNI has stood with affiliates globally who are building their capacity to organize for safer jobs and stronger unions. For example, we supported UniPHIN in Nepal, where OSH committees have become critical in organizing hospital workers. UniPHIN began training workers about health and safety in 2021 – during the pandemic’s peak. Through this training, the union organized and created OSH committees that helped workers secure PPE, mental health support and time off.

“For many workers, UniPHIN was a source of hope and we were able to organize new members in a difficult time,” said Pratima Bhatta, UniPHIN Secretary Treasurer and Organizer.

Starting in 2016, the Sindicato de Trabajadores de Hipermercados Tottus (SINATHIT) in Peru conducted campaigns to educate workers at Tottus hypermarkets about their right to choose their own health and safety representatives, resulting in the union being well represented on the OSH committee despite company interference. The union invested in training and organizing workers around OSH issues, resulting in a drop in injuries and a stronger union.

That union power was put on display when young union representatives, galvanized through OSH activity, organized sit-ins at Tottus stores across the country, forcing the company to make concessions in bargaining a new contract, resulting in major wage increases. The union emerged stronger as a result of members’ solidarity and determination, showing that OSH committees not only prevent injury but enable organizing around other issues.

Occupational health and safety is a fundamental right, but without unions, we have seen that workers’ rights get disrespected. On International Workers’ Memorial Day, we join with unions from around the world to secure safe jobs through organizing. and emphasizing the importance of OSH committees,” said UNI’s Hoffman.

The ITUC’s International Workers Memorial Day materials are here.

Go to to find events in your community.


Global: #iwmd 23 – Safety for all – the need for gender-responsive OHS | IndustriALL

28 April, 2023 Gender based division of labour, sexual biological differences, employment patterns, social roles and social structures mean that women and men are exposed to different risks at work, and also exposed in different ways. These differences need to be identified and acknowledged, OHS policies should be gender-responsive to ensure workplaces that are safe for all workers.

The TUC’s guide for trade union activists on Gender in occupational safety and health illustrates that occupational health and safety often treats men and women as if they were the same. Less attention is given to the health and safety needs of women.

Traditional emphasis of health and safety, and related research, have been on risk prevention in visibly dangerous work largely carried out by men in sectors like construction and mining, where inadequate risk control can lead to fatalities. As a result, women’s occupational injuries and illnesses, like work-related stress or musculoskeletal disorders have been largely ignored, under-diagnosed, under-reported and under-compensated.

Across the world, work equipment, tools and personal protective equipment (PPE), have been traditionally designed for the male body size and shape. Moreover, as explained by the ILO, the design of most PPE is based on the sizes and characteristics of male populations from certain countries in Europe, Canada and the United States. As a result, not only women, but also many men experience problems finding suitable and comfortable PPE because they do not conform to this standard male worker model.

Gender inequality both inside and outside the workplace can affect women’s occupational safety and health and there are important links between wider discrimination issues and health. According to the ILO, in general, women are more exposed than men to psychosocial risks that can cause work-related stress, burnout, violence, discrimination and harassment.

The extra responsibilities that women face as paid workers and unpaid carers for their families make that women’s stress levels remain high after work. Not acknowledging gender differences may mean that apparently neutral policies impact differently on women and men and reinforce existing inequalities. OSH is a core aspect of promoting gender equality.

“We need a gender-responsive approach, based on the analysis of sex and gender disaggregated data, that acknowledges and makes visible differences between male and female workers, identifies their differing risks and propose control measures so that effective solutions are provided for everyone,”

says Glen Mpufane, IndustriALL OSH director.

ILO Convention 190 on violence and harassment in the world of work is a, calling on employers to conduct gender responsive risk assessment, taking into account gender stereotypes, multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, and unequal gender-based power relations.

Consultation with women workers and the women health and safety representatives in health and safety committees are key for the development of gender responsive OHS.

Guidelines on out gender-responsive risk assessment on violence and harassment

Global: Remarkable rise in safety activity worldwide to mark 28 April International Workers’ Memorial Day / Day of Mourning #iwmd23

Unions make a world of difference. We called for occupational health and safety to be an ILO fundamental right. We won it. And now we have got active worldwide in our workplaces, communities and on the streets on #iwmd23 to make it happen. Unions make work better. Make work safer.


Global: Organising for safer workplaces this International Workers’ Memorial Day | ITF Global #iwmd23

Unions remember workers lost to negligent employers and safety standards

Today, the 28th of April, marks International Workers’ Memorial Day, when trade unions around the world remember and mourn the loss of the colleagues, friends and family who never came home from work.

Most of these tragedies were preventable. Yet the negligence of employers and a lack of adequate occupational safety and health standards continue to kill and injure transport workers across the world.

In the past year, many transport workers have lost their lives in the workplace and millions more have suffered life-changing injuries and ill health, including:

  • Shocking reports that revealed that as many as 100,000 fishers were killed last year, in an industry where forced labour and human trafficking continue to be linked to fatalities.
  • Road transport remained the deadliest industry in many countries around the world, as truck drivers’ continue to be forced to take deadly risks to deliver goods at lower costs due to unsustainable rates of pay.
  • Tugboat workers’ safety continued to be put at risk from a lack of adequate safety standards, regulation and enforcement that can allow boats to operate for 50 years without a single inspection.

That’s why we fight to ensure workers’ have a seat at the table in setting occupational standards for safety and health in every transport sector.

International Workers’ Memorial Day is a day to mourn all the workers who have needlessly lost their lives to negligent employers. And it reminds us to organise so it doesn’t happen again.

We’re taking action today to honour the memories of colleagues and friends. Read on to see how you can take part.

This year’s theme: organising for health and safety – a crucial part of union action

In June 2022, unions secured the landmark decision from the International Labour Organization (ILO) to include ‘a safe and healthy working environment’ in its framework of fundamental principles and rights at work.

But words need action. This year, the ITF has outlined safety and health as the first priority in our annual report, and committed to keep working to put this right into practice.

These examples show our 2023 plans to be on front line of pushing for better health and safety standards:

  • We’ll continue to expose the impact of the poor working conditions on the mental health of young people working in public transport.
  • We’ll expand our call to #RatifyC190 so that countries everywhere commit to ending violence and harassment at work.
  • We’ll fight globally to support unions in winning Safe Rates for road transport workers.
  • We’ll keep organising migrant fishers to stand up for their safety and rights in Ireland, Thailand and the UK.
  • We’ll roll out ITF’s OSH Protocols for Safer Ports with more terminal operators and continue to campaign to improve waterfront safety standards and educate unions and dockers worldwide. Our unions are winning for their members in countries like New Zealand where deaths have scarred their communities.
  • We’ll be pushing for better international safety laws, guidelines and recommendations in international policy bodies, like the ILO Technical Meeting on aviation that’s happening this week in Geneva.
  • And we’ll continue to support our affiliates to fight for justice for the families, like the families of Troy Pearson and Charley Cragg, who have lost loved ones at the hands of negligent employers, including campaigning and lobbying for the introduction of industrial manslaughter laws.

Transport workers practise acts of health and safety with every shift, and often go far beyond. From the heroic tug crew Todd Dutton and Shaun Kirkpatrick who saved the life of a 14 year old girl from the torrents of the Fraser River, to the thousands of transport workers who support relief efforts of natural disasters, like the devastating earthquakes that hit Türkiye and Syria in February, and war zones from Palestine and Sudan to Ukraine and Yemen.

We look out for workmates in hazardous areas, spot each other when loading cargo, remind each other to ‘bend at the knees’, and are there for each other when the strain of the job is just too much for our body or mind.

Protecting workers’ lives, preventing injuries and demanding safe workplaces has always been at the heart of our movement – and always will.

We will keep fighting for safe and healthy workplaces – whether it’s securing freedom for abandoned seafarers, drawing up more safety agreements with airport operators, or campaigning to end gender-based violence in the workplace.

Organised workplaces are safer workplaces. That’s why we’ll continue to remember the dead, and fight hard for the living.

Attend an IWMD event near you

Today, workers around the world will be paying their respects to lost colleagues and friends. We invite you to attend an event, vigil or ceremony near you to honour their memories.

Use the 28 April global map to find an event near you.

Alternatively, attend a memorial event if your union is holding one.

Put your work boots out and share a photo on social media

Can’t attend an event in person? We’re also inviting you to put your work boots out in honour of workers who have died on the job.

Make sure to share a photo on social media with the hashtag #IWMD2023 to contribute to the record of remembrances on the day.

Celebrate the ILO’s decision to declare ‘a safe and healthy working environment’ as a fundamental right

On 28 April 2023, the ILO will celebrate the decision to include safe workplaces in its fundamental principles, bringing together experts and constituents to discuss the implications it has for the world of work, as well as how to practically implement this right in the world of work.

Join the ILO global dialogue on from 13:30 to 15:00 CEST: How can we promote the fundamental right to a safe and healthy working environment? 

To inform 28 April discussions, ILO has also produced a detailed report: ‘Implementing a safe and healthy working environment: Where are we now?’

GLOBAL: Health and safety at work is neither a perk to be bargained for nor a favour to be asked – IndustriALL – #iwmd23

28 April is International Workers’ Memorial Day, a day to remind us that health and safety at work is neither a perk to be bargained for nor a favour to be asked. It is our right in the workplace. #iwmd23 #genderbasedviolence #SexualHarassment

IndustriALL @IndustriALL_GU


Global: ITF invites you to put your work boots out on 28 April

“This #IWMD, we invite you to put your work boots out tomorrow in honour of those who have needlessly lost their lives on the job.
Jobs shouldn’t kill. That’s why we’ll keep holding negligent employers to account until every worker is safe at work.”

Ghana: GCMQWU mark 28 April in advance

Members of the BWI-affiliated GCMQWU in Ghana displayed campaign posters at the Zhongmei Engineering Group Limited on 24 April to mark in advance this year’s International Workers’ Memorial Day and call on employers and governments to implement OSH as a fundamental worker right. #iwmd23
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