Tag Archives: IUF

Asia Pacific/Philippines: On April 28 Fishworkers Solidarity remembers commercial tuna fishing workers lost at sea

On International Workers’ Memorial Day, April 28, the IUF-affiliated Fishworkers Solidarity, a member organization of SENTRO, remembered the commercial tuna fishing vessel workers who died or who were “lost” at sea and remain unaccounted for.

Among those remembered on April 28, were workers on tuna fishing vessels who died at sea but whose death was not considered a workplace death. This includes Perfect Aldo who died onboard on January 10, 2020, Arnel Abada who died at sea from pneumonia on June 12, 2021, and Noneto Romero who died onboard from cardiac arrest on November 5, 2022.

Perfect Aldo died onboard the tuna fishing vessel on January 10, 2020

Tuna fishworker, Arnel Abada, died at sea from pneumonia on June 12, 2021

Also remembered are those that the commercial tuna industry and authorities simply declare as “missing” at sea. This includes Gerir Rulete, missing since September 3, 2014. After a decade his family still cannot find peace and his death has not been recognized as work-related.

Tuna fishworker Gerir Rulete, “missing” since September 3, 2014

Warren Poncardas has been “missing” since August 21, 2003.  After 21 years his family too cannot find peace. This is another death while working that is not officially work-related.

The families of Roger Maglasang, Carlos Dejillo, Marvin Villaroya, Ricky Longgarit, and Roy Maglasang were all told that their husbands, fathers, brothers were missing at sea on August 24, 2003. Twenty-one years later, they remain unable to bury their loved ones; unable to declare them dead. As a result, their families are denied the certainty – the truth – that they died while working at sea. They are also denied the insurance they are entitled to for the work-related deaths of their loved ones.

Along with Gerir Rulete and Warren Poncardas, Roger Maglasang, Carlos Dejillo, Marvin Villaroya, Ricky Longgarit, and Roy Maglasangare are among the Unknown Workers killed and forgotten by an irresponsible and reckless commercial tuna industry.

On April 28, Fishworkers Solidarity called for urgent action by the government, employers and the commercial fishing industry to take responsibility for the health and safety of fishworkers throughout the tuna industry and to save lives.

The full text of the statement is below:

Fishworkers’ Solidarity Stands United on International Workers’ Memorial Day: Remember the Dead, Fight for the Living

International Workers’ Memorial Day, 28 April 2024 

Fishworkers’ Solidarity reaffirms its commitment to honoring the memories of those who have lost their lives in the pursuit of their livelihoods, while steadfastly advocating for the safety and well-being of all workers in the fishing industry.

This solemn day serves as a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by countless individuals who have tragically lost their lives due to occupational hazards and unsafe working conditions. From treacherous waters to inadequate safety measures, fishworkers often face perilous situations in their daily endeavors to provide sustenance for communities worldwide.

Today we remember the countless number of fishworkers who were lost out in the sea and remain “missing”. This year alone, we have identified at least 8 fishworkers who are considered “missing”, and that’s just for General Santos and the Saranggani Bay area alone. One wonders, do our government even keep track of these things?

We stand in solidarity with those who continue to endure hazardous working environments and demand accountability from stakeholders responsible for ensuring workplace safety. With the guiding principle of “Remember the Dead, Fight for the Living,” Fishworkers’ Solidarity underscores the urgent need for comprehensive reforms to prioritize the safety and rights of fishworkers everywhere.

This International Workers’ Memorial Day, Fishworkers’ Solidarity calls upon governments, employers, and industry leaders to:

Fully realize the our aspiration for “responsible fisheries and sustainable development” by enhancing the full participation of fishworkers in the whole decision-making process related to fishery resources.

Stop all proposals to amend the Fisheries Code and instead focus all government resources, including that of the non-government sector, on the a whole-of-government, full and effective implementation of the present provisions of the amended Fisheries Code to address illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing including the full implementation of the vessel monitoring system, with data provided to local governments and enforcement agencies.

Enhance safety regulations and enforce stringent measures to prevent accidents and fatalities in the fishing industry.

Provide adequate training, resources, and protective gear to empower fishworkers to carry out their duties safely.

Foster collaborative initiatives between stakeholders to address systemic issues and promote a culture of safety and respect within the industry.

Recognize the invaluable contributions of fishworkers to global food security and uphold their fundamental rights to fair wages, decent working conditions, and social protection.

Together, let us honor the memory of those we have lost by advocating for meaningful change and ensuring that no worker faces unnecessary risks in the pursuit of their livelihood.

Fishworkers’ Solidarity remains unwavering in our commitment to safeguarding the lives and dignity of all fishworkers, today and always.

Through collective action and advocacy efforts, we strive to address the challenges facing fishworkers and promote sustainable practices in the fishing industry. Join us in our mission to create a safer and more equitable future for all fishworkers.

Global: Fighting for climate justice for food, farm and hotel workers in the face of climate change – IUF

The climate crisis puts the lives and livelihoods of millions of food, farm and hospitality workers at severe risk, the global food and farming union federation IUF says. As the planet warms, farming practices, food and beverage processing, trade and tourism must change and adapt. The IUF and its affiliates demand to be part of the solution, to negotiate with employers, governments and international institutions.  Rights, decent jobs and sustainable communities are at the core of the IUF response.

IUF says the working people of the world are most affected by climate instability, including those working in agriculture, food and beverage processing and tourism.

It is calling on UN institutions and International Finance Institutions (IFIs), national, state and local governments, “to work with trade unions to implement a Just Transition to a green and sustainable economy which prioritizes climate stability, biodiversity, social protection, respect for human rights and equality as a means to ensuring decent work, climate justice and the protection of democratic rights.”

IUF “pledges to put just transition and climate justice at the core of IUF work on the climate crisis,” it says.


April 28: Remembering the unknown workers [IUF Asia/Pacific]

IUF Asia/Pacific remembers and speaks powerfully for those workers who die in silence – whose deaths go unreported and unrecognised. Workers who die without justice for themselves or their families:

“For every worker who dies of a long term illness caused by or exacerbated by work – sometimes years after retirement – her or his death is not recorded as work-related. An unknown death of an unknown worker, unrecorded. Every worker who dies in an unreported industrial “accident” is another unknown death. For every worker not considered a worker by legal definition and excluded in employment statistics, she or he dies in silence.

“In our continued call to stop the killing on International Workers’ Memorial Day, April 28, we must also remember the workers whose injuries and deaths are not recognized or recorded as they fall through the gaps.”

Read the full article

Global: Call to strengthen global tools to limit trade in toxic chemicals – IUF #iwmd23

On April 28, International Workers Memorial Day, we mourn those killed at work and pledge to fight hard for the living by winning safer workplaces.

In 2022, the ILO’s International Labour Conference agreed to include the right to a safe and healthy workplaces as a fundamental right at work alongside the right to collective bargaining and freedom of association, equality, no forced labour and no child labour.

Exposure to pesticides regularly kills or destroys the health of thousands of agricultural workers. A shocking report in 2021 estimated that there are 385 million cases of unintentional, acute pesticide poisonings annually including 11,000 fatalities among farmers and farmworkers.

This year, the IUF is joining with global unions and national federations to demand more effective control of the international trade in hazardous chemicals. There are more than 350,000 chemicals circulating in the global economy, supposedly controlled by the Rotterdam Convention; however, the labour movement has been highly critical of the Convention for its weak procedure resulting in the failure to control paraquat and asbestos. Also concerning is the influence of the pesticides industry over the application of the Convention.

Currently, the Convention’s Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure for hazardous chemicals and pesticides ensures that countries exporting pesticides must seek the prior informed consent of the importing countries before shipping; however, to list products using the PIC procedure requires consensus. This requirement, initially introduced to foster cooperation, has instead evolved into a veto mechanism that is now threatening the viability and effectiveness of the Convention.  A small group of countries continue to block the listing of several highly hazardous substances.

In May 2023, the 11th Conference of Parties for the Rotterdam Convention will be meeting in Geneva, and the IUF along with sister global unions will be campaigning for the adoption of a new annex to the Convention which will allow parties who want to share information about a substance considered dangerous by the Chemical Review Committee to do so, even when the listing of the substance has been blocked by a failure to reach consensus. Listing on the new annex will require a 75% majority vote. Furthermore, for chemicals listed in the new Annex VIII, explicit prior informed consent will be required from the importing country before the hazardous substances can be shipped.

In addition to union support, the amendment is strongly supported by many countries and numerous experts including three UN Special Rapporteurs: Marcos Orellana, Special Rapporteur on toxics and human rights; David R. Boyd, Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment; and Pedro Arrojo-Agudo, Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation.

They have issued a joint statement which recognizes the importance of the Rotterdam Convention as a “tool to advance the right to information and effectively prevent exposure of people, soil, and water resources to toxics” but criticizes the procedure which allows a handful of countries to “persistently block the listing of hazardous chemicals.”

Click HERE to read the IUF’s press release.

“The breakdown of the science-policy interface mechanism in the Rotterdam Convention undermines the realization of the human right to science and the effectiveness of the instrument. Governments have a duty to align their policies with the best” available scientific evidence.
UN Special Rapporteurs statement

Bangladesh: IUF observes minute’s silence on 28 April – #iwmd23

IUF Food & Beverage Workers Council in Bangladesh observed minute silence to recall tragic death of workers due to unsafe working conditions and resolved to fight for safe workplaces. Remember the dead and flight for the living. Stop the Killing.

IUF Asia-Pacific 


Africa: The march to demand OHS as a fundamental right is on in Africa


IUF Africa Region, under the challenging environment of COVID-19 that has devasted jobs and livelihood of workers, marks the International Workers Memorial Day (IWMD) with a Webinar.  The event will be a rededication to the struggle to push employers across the IUF sectors in Africa to invest in elimination of health and safety risks at work in the midst of COVID-19. It will be an event where IUF affiliates across the region will send a clear message that health and safety should not be relegated to the peripheries of fundamental rights but rather must be made a fundamental right at work. This demand is made with no apology.  It will be held virtually from 15h00 – 17h00 (CET).

The theme of the Webinar is “We choose to fight for an effective OHS system, amidst Covid -19, based on recognition of health and safety as a fundamental right at work: Together we shall win!!” It is an undeniable fact that the fundamental right to life is denied by poor working environment.  The tombs of millions of workers who lost their lives bear testimony to this sad fact. HEALTH BEFORE PROFIT IS STILL OUR DEMAND!! On this day, as the region remembers those who died, suffered injuries and il-heath as a result of preventable workplace hazards, demand an effective OHS system that puts the worker first and profits last. The region shall fight for the living as it demands that health and safety must be a fundamental right at work. The only choice to fight and win is what the region makes.

As the region remembers workers who lost their lives due to poor working environment, argues that any health and safety system that is not based on human rights, and hence lacking a strong voice of workers as a key element, will not be effective. IUF Africa holds the belief that core-determination on matters affecting workers, including health and safety, must be a principle underpinning an effective health and safety system. Other elements such hierarchy of hazard control and risk assessment become non-negotiable part of the system, and thus putting to shame the concept of Behaviour-Based Safety programmes.

The IUF AFRICA Region, support, without any reservation, the global call to make health and safety a fundamental right at work. It is the solemn tribute to workers who died, injured or fell ill due to exposure to preventable workplace risks.


Burkina Faso: IUF affiliates take the lead in organizing worker safety and protection

Since the first appearance of COVID-19 in Burkina Faso, the national IUF Women’s Committee and the IUF national Coordination Committee have stepped in where employers and public authorities have been unwilling or unable to provide adequate protection for workers. They have been supplying soap, masks and disinfectant and informing members how to protect themselves, their families and their communities, on and off the job. They have been working with civil society organizations to maximize  the impact on local communities.

The Women’s Committee has collaborated for several years with a national personal product company to teach women working in the informal economy how to make soap. With the knowledge gained, the women have been making liquid soap in containers with information on COVID-19 for distribution to IUF members, in their workplaces or at affiliates’ offices.

On April 27 the IUF Coordination Committee organized a distribution to affiliates  of soap, disinfectant and locally designed face masks in the capital city Ouagadougou. National Coordinator Bassirou Ouédraogo emphasized the importance of maintaining  rigorous sanitation and protection throughout the crisis, at work and at home. He also called on the government to ensure respect for worker rights during the health emergency and after, citing several cases of employers who, under cover of the crisis, had dismissed union members in retaliation for exercising their rights.


Global: Unions demand recognition of COVID-19 as an occupational disease | IUF UITA IUL

The IUF joins with our sister international union organizations in calling for speedy official recognition of COVID-19 as an occupational disease by governments and national health and safety bodies. Official recognition of exposure to SARS-CoV-2 as a preventable occupational hazard, and work-related COVID-19 as a work-related disease, would require employers to take necessary measures to protect workers against the risk of exposure, establish liability for failure and provide compensation to workers and their families sickened and killed by COVID-19.

A short policy brief  explains how and why this recognition is needed to protect workers, their families and their communities.


Italy: FLAI-CGIL calls for regularisation of migrant workers and urgent measures to protect their health

The IUF-affiliated agrifood union FLAI-CGIL, together with numerous civil society organizations, has called on the government to take immediate measures to safeguard the health and safety of the thousands of irregular migrant workers and asylum-seekers living in the country. In an open letter of April 24, the union calls for solidarity with the irregular workers living in makeshift camps and ghettos, many of them employed in agriculture, without access to adequate water and sanitation. Government measures to tackle the health emergency do not reach these populations, putting lives at risk and threatening to transform them into pandemic hotspots.

The letter calls on the government to enable monitoring and prevention measures by requisitioning migrant housing and providing improvements to basic infrastructure. Interruption in the supply of migrant workers from Eastern Europe threatens farm production, while irregular workers are unable to fill the shortage due to their fear of the authorities. Migrants and asylum seekers, the letter states, must be allowed to emerge with confidence from their irregular situation by being given residency status.

The health emergency and threat to food production, warns the letter, can only be addressed by guaranteeing workers’ fundamental rights and strict application of the sectoral collective agreements.



Tunisia: Call to protect migrants and refugees

Tunisia’s national trade union center UGTT, together with civil society organizations, activists and members of parliament, has called on the government to take immediate measures to ensure that migrant workers, refugees and asylum seekers enjoy full access to medical services, prevention measures and social support in the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the government agreed on April 7 to a limited number of measures including visa extensions, an April 10 appeal (available here in French) insists, in the name of solidarity, on targeted actions to fully protect the rights of non-citizens, including the right to medical services, regularization of migrants’ residency status and easing the population currently in crowded migrant detention centers with an elevated risk of contagion. Most migrant workers in Tunisia are from sub-Saharan Africa.

IUF news release.