Tag Archives: ETUC

Europe: 28 April – Workers Memorial Day: HEALTH AND SAFETY IS YOUR RIGHT!


With 1 in 3 people working from home, and those at the workplace taking special precautions, COVID-19 shows the life and death importance of health and safety at work.

Among the 530,000 deaths from COVID-19 in the European Union* are uncounted thousands of workers who got it at work. We mourn their loss and offer condolences and solidarity to loved ones. We also remember those who died in the last year from work-related cancer and other illness and accidents at work: over 100,000 in Europe alone.

While vaccination offers hope, health and safety must remain an absolute priority in the coming months and beyond. Health and safety are not gifts from the authorities or a good employer: health and safety at work is YOUR right. A right that unions fight for!

In the European Union ‘Every worker has the right to working conditions which respect his or her health, safety and dignity’**. EU law***

  • obliges employers to provide healthy and safe workplaces,
  • requires all workers to be protected by health and safety law, and
  • gives workers the right to information and consultation on health and safety, and to designate safety representatives.

It means employers are responsible for obvious risks such as exposure to dangerous substances, heavy lifting or repetitive movements, as well as other less widely acknowledged risks such as work-related stress, harassment and bullying.

Despite clear rights, health and safety is far from a reality for all workers. One in three workers in Bulgarian, Slovakia and Spain and almost half in Czechia and Greece who must wear personal protective equipment (PPE) at work are only provided it sometimes or not at all. During the COVID crisis many essential workers, among which women are overrepresented in the care and cleaning sectors, have not had adequate PPE. The same applies to precarious workers, whose limited social protection gives them no choice but to continue working, even if they have coronavirus symptoms.

Many workers have not been able to socially distance. Homeworking carries its own risks like increased domestic violence (up by a third in some EU countries during lockdown), longer hours unable to disconnect, and a lack of appropriate equipment at home. The growth of workers in digital platforms leaves increasing numbers of workers without proper protective equipment – only 35% of platform workers say their platform had taken measures to assist them in the pandemic.

Trade unions and safety representatives play a vital role in ensuring health and safety. Any working person who cares about their own health and safety at work should join a union and find out if they have a safety representative. A trade union can help to ensure that a safety representative is appointed and listened to by management.

Trade unions fight for better health and safety in the workplace and in law. Unions have obtained from the EU occupational exposure limits for many cancer-causing substances and are fighting to get tougher limits and for more substances. Unions are seeking stronger legal obligations on employers to tackle stress and back pain (and other so-called musculo-skeletal disorders). Unions are also pushing for the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to implement its centennial conference decision in 2019 to make occupational safety and health a fundamental right at work.

Health and safety are not just for Workers Memorial Day or even the pandemic – it’s your right and for life – literally!

*As of 25 February 2021

**Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, art. 31

***Occupational Health and Safety Framework Directive,1989


Europe: Commission must rethink ‘astonishing’ omission of workers’ health and safety from work programme | ETUC

The ETUC is using Workers Memorial Day to appeal again to the European Commission to prioritize workplace health and safety in its plans for the next five years in light of the coronavirus crisis.

Trade unions first raised the alarm last September when occupational health and safety was omitted from Ursula von der Leyen’s political guidelines, pointing out that every year there are 4,000 fatal accidents at work and 120,000 people die of work-related cancer.

Despite that, the Commission continued to overlook this matter of life or death when it published its work programme for 2019 to 2024 in January.

The ETUC is now writing again to the Commission President to urge her to reassess her priorities in light of the coronavirus crisis, which has been responsible for hundreds of deaths at work.

In a separate letter sent to Nicholas Schmit, the European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, today the ETUC and its affiliates have called on him to ensure Covid-19 is recognised as an occupational disease.

Our appeals come on Workers Memorial Day, the international day of remembrance for those who have lost their lives at work which is routinely observed by the European Commission.

The ETUC is calling on the European Commission to:

  • Include a plan for zero workplace deaths and the elimination of work-related cancer to its work programme for 2020.
  • Add Covid-19 to the EU directive on the protection of workers from risks related to exposure to biological agents to ensure the most effective and strict prevention measures
  • Enlarge the scope of the recommendation concerning the European schedule of occupational diseases to cover all professions exposed to Covid-19 at a higher level than for the general population
  • Enforce existing legislation in member states after a dramatic drop in workplace inspections in many countries

ETUC Deputy General Secretary Per Hilmersson said:

“The omission of health and safety from the European Commission’s agenda was astonishing before the crisis considering there are still 4,000 fatal accidents at work and 120,000 people dying of work-related cancer every year.

“In light of recent events, it would be grossly negligent to keep turning a blind eye to this matter of life and death.

“Yet workplace health and safety is still not given the importance it deserves in the Commission’s roadmap towards lifting Covid-19 containment measures. The exit strategy needs to have a hazard-based approach, with proper prevention measures put in place before we can return to work.

““It is high time for Ursula von der Leyen and her team to prioritize occupational health and safety, of which there was no mention in her political guidelines when elected Commission President and of which is still no mention in the recently leaked Commission work programme.”

Latvia: ETUC paziņojums Starptautiskajā darba aizsardzības dienā 28. aprīlī

ETUC paziņojums Starptautiskajā darba aizsardzības dienā 28. aprīlī

Global: Trade unions across the globe are marking 28 April – ETUC

#IWMD20 Have a look at trade union actions across the world 28april.org

? Remember the dead, fight like hell for the living #Covid19 #Coronavirus

Europe: On 28 April ETUC remembers those who died from corona virus at work

ETUC has today shared 28 April materials for general use prepared by their communication department.

The aim is to make a solid connection between the current Covid 19 crisis and more general health and safety issues.

ETUC has provided the materials in formats for Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (and also in editable formats so you can edit – add your logo and translate), a statement signed by ETUC and European sectoral trade union federations, and a list of short texts we will use with the visuals on social media.

ETUC will publish the statement and start posting on social media from Friday 24 April, with new posts every day until and including Tuesday 28 April.

You are encouraged to use the materials as you wish, to translate and adapt, and also to share/like ETUC posts . ETUC has full rights for photos so you can use them too. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #IWMD20, we are also using #CoronaVirus and #Covid19 .

ETUC webpages


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.

For more information see: http://www.etuc.org/international-workers-memorial-day-28-april-2015  & https://28april.org/


Europe: Unions say STOP treating protection from hazardous chemicals as “red tape”

For this 28th April, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) will run a highly visible action, focusing on the 100,000 people who die every year in the EU as a result of occupational cancers, as well as the 150,000 people who have died waiting for the EU to approve the Directive on Carcinogens and Mutagens at Work, held up since October 2013 by an EU review of ‘red tape’.

To mark the International Workers’ Memorial Day, the ETUC is planning to meet with Commissioners and MEPs at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, and will participate in events in Belgium and Latvia.

ETUC General Secretary Bernadette Ségol will meet European Parliament President Martin Schulz and European Employment Commissioner Thyssen in the European Parliament in Strasbourg .

ETUC 28 April webpages

The artwork below will be used at these events.

etuc1 etuc2 etuc3

Unions to meet with Belgian labour minister

The ETUC is to stage an event outside the European Commission HQ in Brussels and will joint with the Belgian trade unions to meet with the Belgian Minister of Labour.

ETUC General Secretary Bernadette Ségol will meet European Parliament President Martin Schulz and European Employment Commissioner Thyssen in the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

ETUC 28 April webpages

etuc1 etuc2 etuc3

Gear up for Workers’ Memorial Day, 28 April 2015

The theme for Workers’ Memorial Day 2015 will be “removing exposure to hazardous substances in the workplace”, global union confederation ITUC has announced. The union body says the theme includes an opportunity for unions to highlight chemical-related hazards, asbestos “as well as the Ebola virus and other potentially hazardous biological exposures.” It adds slogans, twitter hashtag suggestions and other communication tools will be posted on the ITUC/Hazards 28 April webpages. Europe-wide, the ETUC has already announced it will use the 28 April event to further its campaign on hazardous substances.
ITUC/Hazards and TUC 28 April 2015 Workers’ Memorial Day webpages. Risks 685.  
Hazards news, 10 January 2015