Tag Archives: IndustriALL

#iwmd23 – African unions commemorate International Workers’ Memorial Day | Industriall

African unions commemorate International Workers’ Memorial Day 

2 May, 2023

To commemorate International Workers’ Memorial Day a group of shop stewards from different trade unions in Sub-Saharan Africa came together, in Ghana, to visit and learn about adherence to occupational health and safety standards at state-owned Tema oil refinery and Trafigura’s Tema multiproduct terminal known as Blue Ocean. As symbols of remembrance the workers and delegation wore black ribbons and carried black candles.

Kofi Poku, the union branch chairperson at the terminal said,

“Blue Ocean is known to be conscious on health and safety issues and workers make significant contributions towards creating a safe working environment. The visit by IndustriALL is commendable and highlights the commitment of organised labour at global level to ensure health and safety at work.”

A meeting preceding the visit discussed country reports which focused on: accident reporting systems in Togo, campaigns for health and safety laws in mining that protected workers’ rights in South Africa, and campaigns against precarious work as workers, in Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, and Uganda, with short contracts faced more health and safety risks than those on permanent contracts.

The meeting also heard that Madagascar’s garment and textile factories’ contract workers faced risks that were worsened by sexual harassment which was targeted at young women workers. The meeting discussed the positive impact of the Bangladesh Accord on Sub-Saharan Africa especially the involvement of brands through global framework agreements after the Rana Plaza disaster which happened a decade ago.

In Mauritius, unions were campaigning for proposed amendments to Articles 7, 10, 11, and 22, to the Rotterdam Convention, a global treaty to facilitate informed decision making by countries to manage chemicals in international trade and exchange information on hazardous chemicals and their potential risks. The campaign by the CTSP received government endorsement, and Mauritius’ position will be presented at the 11th conference of parties to the Rotterdam Convention that is currently taking place in Geneva, Switzerland.

Glen Mpufane, Industrial director for mining and lead on health and safety, said:

“Workers have made immense sacrifices on health and safety and as trade union activists we are in solidarity on their demands for safer workplaces. It is a victory for workers that health and safety is now one of the fundamental rights at work and this is why we must have knowledge on international labour conventions and recommendations. However, as we remember the injured and dead, we must adapt our programmes to include human rights’ due diligence and demand responsible business conduct from employers.”

Glen added that workers must remain vigilant on identifying hazards and risks at the workplaces including wearing of appropriate personal protective equipment in hazardous areas and exercising the right to refuse unfair and unsafework.

The participants are part of the Sub-Saharan Africa occupational health and safety committee whose members are drawn from the chemical, garment and textile, mining, oil and gas, and other industrial sectors. This visit was organized by IndustriALL affiliate, the Ghana Transport Petroleum and Chemical Workers Union which organizes workers at the Tema Oil Refinery and Blue Ocean.


Global: #iwmd 23 – Safety for all – the need for gender-responsive OHS | IndustriALL

28 April, 2023 Gender based division of labour, sexual biological differences, employment patterns, social roles and social structures mean that women and men are exposed to different risks at work, and also exposed in different ways. These differences need to be identified and acknowledged, OHS policies should be gender-responsive to ensure workplaces that are safe for all workers.

The TUC’s guide for trade union activists on Gender in occupational safety and health illustrates that occupational health and safety often treats men and women as if they were the same. Less attention is given to the health and safety needs of women.

Traditional emphasis of health and safety, and related research, have been on risk prevention in visibly dangerous work largely carried out by men in sectors like construction and mining, where inadequate risk control can lead to fatalities. As a result, women’s occupational injuries and illnesses, like work-related stress or musculoskeletal disorders have been largely ignored, under-diagnosed, under-reported and under-compensated.

Across the world, work equipment, tools and personal protective equipment (PPE), have been traditionally designed for the male body size and shape. Moreover, as explained by the ILO, the design of most PPE is based on the sizes and characteristics of male populations from certain countries in Europe, Canada and the United States. As a result, not only women, but also many men experience problems finding suitable and comfortable PPE because they do not conform to this standard male worker model.

Gender inequality both inside and outside the workplace can affect women’s occupational safety and health and there are important links between wider discrimination issues and health. According to the ILO, in general, women are more exposed than men to psychosocial risks that can cause work-related stress, burnout, violence, discrimination and harassment.

The extra responsibilities that women face as paid workers and unpaid carers for their families make that women’s stress levels remain high after work. Not acknowledging gender differences may mean that apparently neutral policies impact differently on women and men and reinforce existing inequalities. OSH is a core aspect of promoting gender equality.

“We need a gender-responsive approach, based on the analysis of sex and gender disaggregated data, that acknowledges and makes visible differences between male and female workers, identifies their differing risks and propose control measures so that effective solutions are provided for everyone,”

says Glen Mpufane, IndustriALL OSH director.

ILO Convention 190 on violence and harassment in the world of work is a, calling on employers to conduct gender responsive risk assessment, taking into account gender stereotypes, multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, and unequal gender-based power relations.

Consultation with women workers and the women health and safety representatives in health and safety committees are key for the development of gender responsive OHS.

Guidelines on out gender-responsive risk assessment on violence and harassment


GLOBAL: Health and safety at work is neither a perk to be bargained for nor a favour to be asked – IndustriALL – #iwmd23

28 April is International Workers’ Memorial Day, a day to remind us that health and safety at work is neither a perk to be bargained for nor a favour to be asked. It is our right in the workplace. #iwmd23 #genderbasedviolence #SexualHarassment

IndustriALL @IndustriALL_GU


Global: IndustriALL – Health and safety must be a fundamental principle and right at work

27 April, 2022 As we prepare for International Workers’ Memorial Day on 28 April to remember the unnecessary, tragic losses of workers’ lives, we hope to celebrate a milestone in the global efforts to stem the tide of deaths in the world of work. A better tomorrow, where workers will be safe in the knowledge that health and safety will be a fundamental principle and right at work.

“A fundamental rights approach to health and safety provides a human rights lens. The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights include a duty and responsibility to protect the health and safety of workers. Such a human rights-based approach will have the effect of creating coherence between human rights and occupational health and safety standards and reinforce the principle that all workers share the right to a safe and healthy working environment,”

says IndustriALL assistant general secretary Kan Matsuzaki.

While IndustriALL Global Union applauds the ILO Governing Body’s decision in March to agree to put forth the discussion for an amendment to the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work to include occupational safety and health during the International Labour Conference in June 2022, we demand no less than an agreement. It has been three years since the ILO Centenary Conference agreed to the amendment and in that time

“around 8.1 million people have died as a result of their work and even more now live with life-altering injuries and illnesses,”

says ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow.

According to an estimate by the Workplace Safety and Health Institute, across the world in 2017, 2.78 million deaths were the result of occupational accidents or work-related diseases. The biggest share of work-related mortality was from work-related illnesses, which accounted for 2.40 million (86.3 per cent) of the total estimated deaths. Fatal injuries accounted for the remaining 13.7 per cent.
In 2019, the World Health Organization estimated that workplace-related deaths exceed the average annual deaths from road accidents (999,000), war (502,000), violence (563,000) and HIV/AIDS (312,000).

“Many of IndustriALL’s sectors, like mining, shipbreaking, chemicals and textile and garment, mirror these statistics, which also show a stark regional difference,”

says IndustriALL mining and health and safety director Glen Mpufane.


In combination with other fundamental principles and rights, recognizing health and safety as a fundamental principle offers workers a fighting chance to win the war. IndustriALL is calling on its more than million members across the world to participate in events and activities on 28 April, demand that employers and governments act by:

  • ratifying and implementing core ILO health and safety conventions
  • ratifying and implementing all sectoral or hazard-specific conventions
  • establishing national health and safety bodies bringing unions and employer representatives together
  • requiring occupational health services for all, and proper compensation including recognizing Covid-19 as an occupational disease

Let us know what action you are taking in making the demand for the recognizing of health and safety as a fundamental principle and right – it could be webinars, protests, online statements, petitions, workplace inspections. Please tag IndustriALL on social media and use the hashtag #IWMD22

The ILO is hosting a webinar, Act together to build a positive safety and health culture – World Day for Safety and Health at Work 2022, with ILO Director General Guy Ryder and global leaders and experts. You can register here.

Cover photo: Marcel Crozet / ILO


Global: Health and Safety must be a fundamental principle and right at work | IndustriALL

IndustriALL news release – 14 March, 2022

As the 344th Session of the Governing Body of the International Labour Organization (ILO) commences on 14 March 2022, global unions are calling for an amendment to the 1998 Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work that will lead to Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) being considered a fundamental principle and right at work.

The amendment would see OHS joining the four fundamental principles and rights at work that the Declaration currently recognizes: freedom of association and the right to organize and bargain collectively; the prohibition of forced labour; prohibition of child labour; and the elimination of discrimination in employment.

The Governing Body meets three times a year, in March, June and November. It takes decisions on ILO policy, decides the agenda of the International Labour Conference, adopts the draft programme and budget of the organization for submission to the conference, and elects the Director-General.

The call by global unions’ is consistent with the 2019 ILO Centenary Declaration on the future of work and a global campaign for OHS to be added to the fundamental principles and rights at work. In June 2019, UN experts urged the ILO to immediately recognize and adopt safe and healthy working conditions as one of its fundamental principles and rights at work. A follow-up to the resolution on the ILO Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work called for proposals, including safe and healthy working conditions, to be added to the ILO’s framework of fundamental principles and rights at work.

According to the first joint WHO/ILO monitoring report, released on 27 September 2021, at least 1.9 million workers lose their lives every year due to the work-related diseases and injuries. However, when adding causes of death by risk factors not included and filling in information gaps from poor record-keeping, the number is closer to a staggering three million deaths.

“Health and safety at work is neither a perk to be bargained for nor a favour to be asked. It is our right,” said IndustriALL mining director and OHS lead, Glen Mpufane.

“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.”

At the November 2021 meeting of the ILO Governing Body, global unions finally secured agreement that the agenda for the 2022 International Labour Conference would include an amendment to the ILO 1998 Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work to achieve this.

On the back of this achievement, and to maintain the momentum and ensure that the  ILO Governing Body takes the decisions workers need on OHS, IndustriALL Global Union calls on its over 50 million members and affiliates to amplify the call by the ITUC to call on governments and employers:

  • To designate Convention 155 on OHS as a fundamental right at work, as it is the main convention setting out what governments need to do.
  • To designate ILO Convention 161 on Occupational Health Services a complimentary fundamental right at work. ILO Convention 161 on Occupational Health Services requires governments to ensure that workers have access to an occupational health service, either in their workplace or through the public health system.
  • To allow the broadest interpretation of health and safety, urge Governments to support the term “working environment” as reference in the fundamental principle and right at work.
  • To ensure that should be no international competition over OHS standards in trade agreements.

“The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights include a duty and responsibility to protect the health and safety of workers. With the United Nations’ resolution recognizing access to a healthy and sustainable environment as a universal right, another historic moment awaits the Governing Body to make the correct decision,” said IndustriALL assistant general secretary, Kan Matsuzaki.



Global: Se aproxima el de abril, Día internacional en memoria de los trabajadores fallecidos y heridos

See more  #iwmd21 Tweets here

Pakistan: Unions demand immediate payment of wages and an end to sackings

IndustriALL affiliates NTUF and Federation Homebased women in #Pakistan are demanding immediate payment of outstanding wages and an end to sackings.

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: 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.