Category Archives: 2020 Global

Global: Call on ships to sound horns to support “unsung heroes” | ITF Global

The International Chamber of Shipping and its global network of national member associations and the International Transport Workers’ Federation and its 215 seafarers’ unions are calling on seafarers across the world to sound their ships’ horns when in port at 12.00 local time on International Workers’ Day on 1 May 2020.

International Workers’ Day – or Workers’ Day, May Day or Labour Day – is recognised in many countries around the world to celebrate and acknowledge the contribution made by workers across the world.

The ICS and ITF are encouraging the gesture of solidarity to recognise over 1.6 million seafarers across the world, the unsung heroes of global trade, who are keeping countries supplied with food, fuel and important supplies such as vital medical equipment not only through the Covid-19 pandemic, but every day. Prior to engaging in blowing the horns ships should ensure that appropriate clearance is sought where required.

Guy Platten, Secretary General of the International Chamber of Shipping said, “Our seafarers are the unsung heroes of global trade and we must not forget the contribution that they are making every day to keep our countries supplied with the goods that we need. The sounding of a ships’ horn in ports on the day that the world recognises the contribution of workers is an ideal way to remind us all of their sacrifice. They are all Heroes at Sea.”

Stephen Cotton, General Secretary, International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) said, “The ITF welcomes this initiative and call on seafarers to sound their ships’ horns in a global expression of solidarity, but importantly to also ensure that the spotlight remains on how critical seafarers are to ensure that essential goods continue to be transported around the world during this crisis. Governments should see this as a call to action to facilitate crew changes and the free movement of seafarers so that they can continue to keep supply chains moving in these unprecedented times.”

Shipping plays a fundamental part in global supply chains, but the issue of crew changes is posing major threat to the safe operation of maritime trade. Due to travel restrictions related to COVID-19, the industry has seen seafarers extending their time onboard ships after lengthy periods at sea. The current situation cannot last indefinitely for the safety and wellbeing of seafarers.

The ITF and ICS also repeated calls on governments to facilitate the free movement of seafarers, following on April 7, and a joint letter from ICS and International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Jointly, the ITF and ICS are calling on governments to:

  1. Designate a specific and limited number of  airports for the safe movement and repatriation of crew.
  2. Redefine seafarers as key workers providing essential services during the Covid-19 pandemic, lifting national restrictions designed for passengers and non-essential personnel.
  3. To deliver their commitment to keep supply chains open by taking urgent measures on the issue.

ICS and ITF have also produced letters of authorisation to help seafarers and authorities recognise the key worker status of transport workers operating with legitimate authority. Shipping companies can the use the facilitation letter template, copy the text on company headed paper, fill in the seafarer’s individual details and share the filled in certificate with each of their affected seafarers, provided they have undergone the required medical screening. The letter states “This facilitation letter certifies that this seafarer should be allowed free passage to travel between their home and their vessel and has participated in a medical screening.” The letter can be downloaded here.

For more information please contact:

Global: Saving ourselves – A basic reference manual for health and safety activists | IndustriALL

IndustriALL’s manual for health and safety activists is a resource for union health and safety activists, particularly those who are just starting out. The manual, written by IndustriALL’s health and safety director Brian Kohler, provides an overview of basic structures and programmes that workers need to understand when fighting for safer and healthier workplaces.


What is the biggest challenge to health and safety in the workplace?

“The biggest challenge is to understand that health and safety at work is neither a perk to be bargained for nor a favour to be asked. It is our right.

“No wage is worth our health or our life, and no remedy can be granted by an arbitrator that will restore our health or our life, once it is lost.”

Is there a quick fix?

“If there is a quick fix, I have not found it in over 40 years of health and safety activism! Our rights are never granted easily, they must always be won by activism and determination. Indeed, every right that we now enjoy followed, and never preceded, the demands and determination and activism of people.

“There is no silver bullet; a safe and healthy workplace is the result of ongoing effort and attention.”

What is IndustriALL’s role in promoting health and safety in the workplace?

“IndustriALL can support union activists in their struggle by providing a framework for understanding occupational health and safety from a trade union point of view. Safe and healthy workplaces are the result of effective and overlapping safety systems: materials, tools, equipment, workplace environment, management priorities, policies, programmes, work procedures – and of course people.

“All of these must be designed, tested, educated or trained to be as safe and healthy as possible.”

How do we stop the corona virus at work?

“The Covid-19 pandemic that we now face is an extraordinary situation, but the principles of infection control are known and have been known for decades. Keep yourselves – especially your hands – clean. Keep equipment, tools, controls and surfaces clean. If social distancing cannot be maintained in your workplace, consider masks – but make sure you wear the correct mask and implement the mask program with appropriate education and training and auditing. (Any respiratory protection programme, whether to wear a simple surgical mask or a supplied-air respirator, needs careful implementation and follow-up to succeed.)

“Think about routes of transmission: during the commute to work and home again, at shift changes, near particular pieces of equipment, in the lunch room, washrooms – wherever people will share breathing space.

“Ensure that workers have sufficient “sick leave” so that they do not feel the need to come to work while sick. Implement a testing program when tests become more readily available. Have a plan to accommodate workers who have higher risk levels. Have a plan to deal with a worker who begins to feel symptoms while at work – how will you get them to medical care, and how will you trace and track every worker that they came into contact with?

“These are just examples, there are extensive guidelines available from the World Health Organization and from national governments and other credible sources. There is also a lot of misinformation out there, so make sure you are getting your guidance from a credible source!”

What rights do workers have?

“Trade unions insist on three basic occupational health and safety rights for workers: the right to know, the right to participate, and the right to refuse or shut down unsafe work.

“The right to know means to know everything there is to know about the hazards of our work, and to receive the necessary education and training to do the job safely.

“The right to participate means to be full partners in the development and implementation of all workplace health and safety policies, programmes, procedures, accident/incident investigations, inspections, audits, risk assessments – everything. We want health and safety done with us, not “to us”. The only people with the moral authority to assess a risk are those who face the risk.

“Finally, we demand the right to refuse to perform, or to shut down, any work that a worker believes to be unsafe or dangerous to health – without negative repercussions.”

Global: Stop the pandemic – Safety and health at work can save lives | ILO

Recognising the challenge that governments, employers, workers and whole societies are facing worldwide to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, to mark International Workers’ Memorial Day – World Day for Safety and Health at Work – the International Labour Organisation (ILO) will focus on addressing the outbreak of infectious diseases at work, focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic.

The day will focus on addressing the outbreak of infectious diseases at work, focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic. The aim is to stimulate national tripartite dialogue on safety and health at work. The ILO is using this day to raise awareness on the adoption of safe practices in workplaces and the role that occupational safety and health (OSH) services play. It will also focus on the medium to long-term, including recovery and future preparedness, in particular, integrating measures into OSH management systems and policies at the national and enterprise levels. More

Global: BWI Action Alert – International Workers Memorial Day ‘Protect Workers! Stop COVID-19’

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives and that of the workers in our sectors, with new risks and fears not only for health and safety but for our overall wellbeing and that of our families and communities. Given that the pandemic is affecting all workers worldwide, including building and construction workers and wood and forestry workers, our work as a Global Union to be united has never been as relevant as it is today. International Workers Memorial Day (IWMD) is on Tuesday 28th of April 2020 and the BWI will campaign theme is year is “Protect Workers! Stop COVID-19We encourage all affiliates to incorporate our theme in your respective campaigns so that your members can be part of the global campaign.

There are other serious health and safety issues continue to be important and should not be put aside this IWMD. We know that more than 100,000 construction workers die each year in preventable “accidents” on site. Forestry workers are also confronted with dangerous conditions that are notorious in the sector. Health and safety are undermined by the reliance of the forestry sector on informal and subcontracting work to boost their profits. The cement industry is also highly hazardous and accounts for hundreds of deaths in worksite accidents, and thousands of workers in the sector contract occupational diseases each year. The heavy use of outsourcing is also largely responsible for the lack of coherent management of hazards at work.

Precarious work in the sectors organised by the BWI affiliates is being paid for by workers with their health and their lives. Thus, the BWI supports IWMD campaign actions taken by affiliates on the need to prevent the loss of lives in these sectors. For example, affiliates active on our Lafarge Holcim campaign are likely to protest together on worker deaths at the company and outsourcing which is a contributing factor. Also, the BWI Youth Committee is organising its IWMD campaign under the sub theme “Life before Profit”.

The BWI also supports continued campaign actions on our longstanding Ban Asbestos campaign; meanwhile, two million tons of chrysotile asbestos is being put into the built environment every year – guaranteeing a deadly legacy for building workers and the public.

We encourage all IWMD campaign actions by affiliates to be shared with the BWI. Please send photos, statements/messages and videos to

The BWI has put together seven-point 28 April 2020 action list  that affiliates can consider which we will be able to incorporate under our global campaign theme. We suggest that campaign actions are carried out between 20 to 28 April 2020.

BWI has developed posters that can be printed and shared online in various languages

Global: Graphic – Protect workers! Stop Covid-19 | BWI

Global: Право отказаться | IndustriALL

Материал Глобального союза IndustriALL о праве отказаться или приостановить выполнение работы, которая угрожает жизни и здоровью.

Global: El derecho a decir que no | IndustriALL

Publicación de IndustriALL Global Union sobre el derecho a rechazar o detener el trabajo inseguro.

Global: The right to refuse | IndustriALL

IndustriALL Global Union’s publication on the right to refuse or to shut down unsafe work.

Global: Workers are the critical link in food supply chain – IUF

A 31 March World Trade Organisation (WTO) and United Nations’ World Health Organisation (WHO) and Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) joint call for  coordinated international action to keep international food supplies flowing ignored the welfare of workers in the sector, the global food and farming union IUF has said.

The IUF has written to the three global bodies to highlight a ‘supremely irresponsible defect’ in their appeal for ‘responsibility’: the total absence of advocacy for action to protect the lives, safety and livelihoods of the agricultural workers on whose labour food security depends.

In a letter to the FAO and WHO, the IUF emphasises that in the COVID-19 crisis food security, worker health and safety and public health converge. “With borders closing and markets collapsing, these agencies are now discovering that workers normally considered ‘unskilled’, exploitable and disposable are in fact essential,” IUF notes.

“Protecting food security requires coordinated action to protect food workers, including the nearly 500 million women and men working for wages on farms of all sizes, plantations, in orchards, greenhouses and in livestock and dairy production.”

The IUF letter asserts: “Substantial, open-ended funding from national governments and international institutions must be made immediately available to ensure adequate protection and safe work for agricultural workers as an elementary measure for saving lives and protecting public health and food security.”

IUF news release.

Global: ITUC action round-up on Covid-19

ITUC action round-up on Covid-19, 7 April 2020

Prepared by Raquel Gonzalez, Director, ITUC Geneva Office.
Secretary, ILO Workers’ Group

ITUC Global Covid-19 Survey

ITUC is regularly surveying its affiliates on Covid-19. The first survey covered the period 17- 23 March 2020. In total, 109 trade unions from 86 countries took part in the survey.

Six questions were asked to monitor government responses, review economic and social policies used to respond to the pandemic, identify workers and sectors worst affected by the crisis and assess how governments and employers are responding to the crisis. The responses will be used by the ITUC and its affiliates in support of international and national advocacy and campaigning.

The second survey was published on 7 April. It covered 116 trade unions in 94 countries. The gap between regions is exposed in this second survey in terms of the responses to the pandemic. While G20 governments have committed to a record stimulus of $5 trillion, the survey shows it risks excluding emerging and developing countries. The latter are also the countries with weaker health systems and inequalities putting the health and life of millions of workers at risk.

The survey shows that the vast majority of governments (72%) are providing wage protection and income support but there are big regional differences. 41% of countries say this is not enough to cover essential costs – this is most strongly felt in the Asia-Pacific (64%) region followed by the Americas (45%).

This is why the ITUC is calling for support for a Global Fund for Universal Social Protection for the poorest countries to support health care and income support.

OSH as a fundamental right

The current pandemic shows once again the importance of OSH. This is why the ITUC will continue to campaign for including safe and healthy working conditions in the ILO’s framework of fundamental principles and rights at work (FPRWs). We will discuss this important issue at the November 2020 ILO Governing Body. At this stage I wish to recall that the Centenary Declaration we adopted in June 2019 on a tripartite basis declared that safe and healthy working conditions are fundamental to decent work. The resolution requested the Governing Boy to: “consider, as soon as possible, proposals for including safe and healthy working conditions in the ILO’s framework of FPRWs.” We strongly believe that the current pandemic shows the urgency to make this a reality and we expect a strong tripartite consensus later this year around including safe and healthy working conditions as part of FPRWs.

A new ILO instrument on biological hazards

At the November 2020 Governing Body we will also be discussing future agenda items to be placed on the Conference agenda. Four areas of OSH standards have been identified (further to the work of the Standard Review Mechanism Tripartite Working Group). We believe that in light of the current pandemic, priority should be given to the development of a Convention complemented by a Recommendation on protection against biological hazards which would be a key contribution that the ILO could make in the current pandemic context based on its rights-based mandate and tripartite structure.

ITUC/IOE Joint Statement on Covid-19

On 23 March, the International Organsation of Employers (IOE) and the ITUC issued a joint statement on Covid-19.

Both organizations called for urgent action in the following areas:

  • Business continuity, income security and solidarity
  • Social dialogue and role of the social partners in the control of and response to the virus
  • Policy coordination and coherence at international level with the UN/WHO taking into account the need to protect employment and income through strengthening of social protection
  • Strong and functioning health systems to combat the pandemic