Europe: 150,000 have died from work cancer while EU evaluates ‘Better Regulation’

On April 28, European Trade unions will commemorate International Workers’ Memorial Day – remembering the 150,000 people who have died in the EU from occupational cancers since the European Commission suspended work on legislation protecting workers from chemicals that cause cancer.

etuc3Every year 100,000 people in the EU die from occupational cancers.

In October 2013 the European Commission stopped developing exposure limits for chemicals that cause cancer because it is reviewing ‘red tape’ – with the result that only 3 cancer-causing chemicals have European exposure limits!

Now the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) is demanding

  • Legally enforceable exposure limits for the for a priority list of the 50 most toxic chemicals for causing cancer, and for male and female fertility.
  • Progress on the revision of the Directive on Carcinogens and Mutagens at work to expand the number of chemicals with binding exposure limits

“Measures to protect workers from cancer and fertility difficulties, are being treated as ‘red tape’ and a so-called ‘unnecessary burden’ on industry” said Bernadette Ségol, General Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation. “It is shameful.”

“I am all in favour of ‘better regulation’ but this is treating human life like another line in the balance sheet, like the cost of raw materials or energy. The ETUC is calling on the European Commission agree legally binding exposure limits for 50 of the most harmful chemicals.”

“The Vice President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans recently said that better regulation does not mean deregulation and lowering standards* so I hope he is willing to take action to protect workers from cancer.”

To mark International Workers’ Memorial Day on April 28:

  • ETUC General Secretary Bernadette Ségol will be in the European Parliament in Strasbourg to meet President Schulz and European Employment Commissioner Thyssen amongst others
  • ETUC and Belgian trade unions will be at the entrance of the  European Commission’s Berlaymont HQ in Brussels at 12.30, following an 11.00 meeting with Belgian Vice Prime Minister Kris Peeters.
  • ETUC Deputy General Secretary Józef Niemiec will meet the Latvian EU Presidency with Latvian trade unions and European trade union health and safety experts at a health and safety conference in Riga.

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