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.