Category Archives: News

Philippines: It’s official, Covid-19 is an occupational disease in the Philippines

The Employees’ Compensation Commission (ECC) in the Philippines has confirmed Covid-19 is now recognised as an occupational disease in the country, with those affected eligible for compensation payments.

Formal recognition of Covid-19 as on occupational disease, with compensation available to all those affected, is a central demand of the global union confederation ITUC on International Workers’ Memorial Day.

Global: ITUC photostory – Why occupational health and safety must be a fundamental right at work

ITUC photostory – Why occupational health and safety must be a fundamental right at work. EN | ES | FR

Global: Cada diez segundos, alguien muere a causa de procedimientos poco estrictos en el lugar de trabajo

USA: COSH network – share your story

Share your story: Almost all traumatic injuries, workplace illnesses and deaths are preventable with proper protections. We honor those killed or injured on the job by fighting for safe work in all workplaces #HurtAtWork #WMW2021 @NYCOSH @PhilaPOSH1 @Worker_Justice

View the philoPOSH WMD webpages 

You can share your WMD activity details with the CPHS network here

UK: Workers’ Memorial Day, one month to go


Dear colleagues,

In four weeks’ time, our movement will observe International Workers’ Memorial Day. Every year, it is an opportunity to remember all workers who have lost their lives to work due to health and safety failures causing fatal injury or illness. We come together to renew our fight for safer work and stronger unions.

You can find the TUC’s brand new #IWMD21 page here: to tweet or share to Facebook.

You can now:

Register for the TUC national zoom call with Frances, Sharan Burrows (ITUC) and more.

➜ Search for your local Memorial Day event or add your own

Download posters and graphics to print off or share online

…and find lots of other ways to get involved here.

Keep an eye on the page as more resources get added in the weeks leading up to 28 April.

In solidarity,


Shelly Asquith
Health and Safety Policy Officer
Trades Union Congress

Coming soon: 28th April, International Workers’ Memorial Day

The International Labour Organization (ILO) includes the elimination of discrimination as a fundamental right at work, but occupational health and safety (OHS) is not included. OHS is crucial to tackling the Covid-19 pandemic, and it must be given sufficient priority by the global community. This International Workers’ Memorial Day, please join us in calling on the ILO to make OHS a fundamental right at work and #SaveLivesAtWork. #iwmd21

In solidarity,

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary

ITUC Campaign Brief: A new approach to global governance of occupational health and safety.


Global: Work health and safety must be fundamental

A death toll of work that claims five lives every minute of every hour of every day around the world demonstrated the scale of the problem. That’s why, says Owen Tudor, that two years ago International Labour Organisation (ILO) conference agreed that occupational health and safety should become a fundamental right at work. Tudor, the deputy general secretary of the global union confederation ITUC, said the ILO’s centennial conference was held nearly a year before the Covid-19 pandemic struck, and changed the working world.

“The pandemic has only reinforced the case for health and safety at work to be given a higher profile and a higher priority. But it still hasn’t happened,” he wrote in an Ethical Trade Initiative (ETI) blog post. Later this month, workers’ representatives on the ILO Governing Body will be arguing that the final steps that need to be taken to give effect to that centennial conference decision should be scheduled for this year’s ILO conference in June.

“If we can’t secure agreement, we will be demanding that at the very least, the next Governing Body meeting this November should complete the preparations, so that the final decision can be taken without further delay, in June 2022,” Tudor explained. That will mean persuading more governments and the employers’ lobby group IOE to throw their weight behind the move.

According to Tudor many major employers, including those who are ETI members, already support the move. “We want to see more employers doing what ETI’s members have done, and come out publicly to support the speedy recognition of occupational health and safety as a fundamental right at work…  making occupational health and safety a fundamental right at work would reduce the toll of death, injury and illness for workers, businesses, families and communities. It would save lives at work. We must do it now.”

See: Occupational health and safety should be a fundamental right at work, ETI blog, 8 March 2021.

Saving lives at work – Sharan Burrow

Sharan Burrow, ITUC

Saving lives at work requires occupational health and safety to be recognised as a fundamental right.

COVID-19 has exposed the risk for workers and without safe workplaces, the risks to the community. With so many frontline workers in health and care, food production and transport, the emergency services and education putting their lives on the line to do vital work, you would think everyone would know that workplace health and safety is one of the key issues in the pandemic. And with so many people having lost their jobs, on forced leave or working from home the role of safe workplaces for a stable economy is obvious.

So you might be surprised to discover that many governments and employers don’t think that being protected should be a fundamental worker’s right.

The World Health Organisation says in its constitution that “the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being”. But the International Labour Organisation has still not been able to implement the decision of its centenary conference in 2019 to include “safe and healthy working conditions in the ILO’s framework of fundamental principles and rights at work”.

This year, trade unions around the world will be pressing governments and employers to agree to put that commitment into practice.

Every year, 2.78 million working people die because of something that happens at work. Hundreds of thousands go to work and don’t make it home in one piece.

A grim occupational disease like mesothelioma, the cancer of the lining of the lung caused by asbestos.

Being buried under tonnes of agricultural slurry because basic safety precautions were ignored to save money.

And now, fighting for breath because inadequate sick pay provision and social protection mean that workers in the informal sector — two-thirds of the people at work around the world today — are being asked to choose between scraping a living at risk of catching Covid-19 and not putting food on their family table.

Governments have left nurses, doctors, and hospital cleaners without suitable masks to protect them as they treat the dying, like in Brazil where tens of thousands of health workers have died.

Employers have forced migrant workers in Australia to work at punishing paces in freezing conditions, crammed together in meatpacking factories, an ideal breeding ground for the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

And health and safety inspectors in the UK haven’t prosecuted a single employer for Covid-19 health and safety breaches in the whole year of the pandemic.

These failures are just the latest in the decades-long disgrace of inadequate occupational health and safety provision. In workplaces where people matter less than profit, where budget cuts put safety on the line, where complaints are punished rather than listened to.

Making occupational health and safety a fundamental right at work — on a par with the prohibition of child and forced labour, discrimination at work, and the right to join a union, bargain collectively and ultimately to take strike action — wouldn’t solve every problem at work.

But it would make employers and governments more accountable when they fall short and a working person suffers, often leaving grieving parents, children, wives or husbands.

It would signal that workers have the right to refuse to take unnecessary risks at work. It would strengthen the hand of inspectors and health and safety professionals. It would drive better health and safety standards along the world’s supply chains.

And it would reaffirm the right of working people to be informed and consulted by their employers about the hazards in their workplaces — benefitting not just workers but the people they care for. In New York nursing homes, 30% fewer residents died where there was a union present.

Health and safety worker representatives, joint management-union safety committees, stronger laws have all been proven, time and time again, to keep working people and the public safer and healthier.

We’re calling on Governments and employer representatives at the ILO Governing Body in March to set a firm date for inserting workplace health and safety in the ILO’s fundamental principles and rights, and then deliver on it. Workers and their unions trusted it would happen this year. It just needs leaders committed to saving lives.

People’s lives matter more than money. With the Covid-19 pandemic raging in workplaces across the world, the time is now. We can’t wait any longer.

Medium, 5 Feb 2021

Save lives at work: International Workers’ Memorial Day – 28 April

On 28 April, International Workers’ Memorial Day, unions around the world are focusing their demands on getting the International Labour Organization (ILO) to adopt occupational health and safety as a fundamental right at work.


  1. Health & safety
  2. Human and trade union rights
  3. ILO
  4. International Workers’ Memorial Day

The existing fundamental ILO rights, which hold governments to the highest level of accountability, are:

  1. freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining;
  2. the elimination of forced or compulsory labour;
  3. the abolition of child labour; and
  4. the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said: “The pandemic has cruelly exposed the lack of protection for workers and indeed for the public who enter different workplaces. Evidence from around the world shows that the virus is spreading at work, not just in health and care settings but also in factories, meat works, warehouses, schools, offices, transport and other sectors.

“With 2.78 million people each year dying from work-related illness and injury even before the pandemic, the picture is now bleaker than at any time in recent history. Now is the time for governments and employers to elevate the status of occupational health and safety to the level of a fundamental right at work.”

Global push

The 2019 ILO Centenary Declaration, adopted unanimously by governments, employers and unions, includes a pledge that all workers will have their safety and health protected at work. The ILO Constitution includes a similar promise, and the World Health Organization already defines health as a fundamental human right.

The trade union movement is now making a global push to lift the status of occupational health and safety to the highest level at the ILO.

As a fundamental ILO right, it will mean a greater level of accountability for governments and stronger obligations on them to ensure employer compliance.

“Every ten seconds, someone dies because of lax workplace procedures. Weak or absent workplace protection for huge numbers of workers was a disgrace before the pandemic; it has now become a fully fledged scandal. This is long overdue, and we call on all governments to meet their obligations to protect workers and members of the public who go into places where people work. This is their fundamental right,” added Sharan Burrow.

28 April 2021 campaign theme: Health and safety is a fundamental right at work

  • 28 de Abril Jornada Internacional de Conmemoración (JIC) de los Trabajadores Fallecidos y Heridos
  • 28 Avril Journée Internationale de Commémoration (JIC) des travailleurs décédés et blessés
  • 28 April International Workers’ Memorial Day
  • 28 April International commemoration day for dead and injured workers
  • 28 April International day of mourning


The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed an occupational health crisis in workplaces worldwide. Workers are routinely denied even basic health and safety protections, including consultation with safety reps and safety committees on ‘Covid-safe’ policies and practices, free access to personal protective equipment and protection from victimisation for raising health and safety concerns. But the same problems existed before the pandemic and resulted in millions of deaths each year from work-related injuries and diseases.

The pandemic demonstrates why health and safety must be a right for everyone who works. Illness anywhere threatens illness everywhere. Unions secured agreement at the International Labour Conference in 2019 that occupational health and safety should be recognised as an International Labour Organisation (ILO) fundamental right at work – the decent, universally accepted and binding rights protecting all workers, everywhere. The ILO Centenary Declaration accepts “safe and healthy working conditions are fundamental to decent work”.

On 28 April 2021, unions can send a message that health and safety protection at work must be recognised as a right for all. Whether it is Covid or occupational cancers, or workplace injuries and industrial diseases, every worker should have a right to a voice and a right to protection. No-one should have to die to make a living.

Resources and updates will be posted on the dedicated 28 April webpages:

ITUC Campaign Brief