President of the Arab Trade Union Confederation, Shaher Sa’ed: “Occupational safety and health at work represents one of the most fundamental rights of workers”
Acting Executive Secretary of the Arab Trade Union Confederation, Hind Benammar: “Implementing national policies of occupational safety and health at work becomes an emergency”
The Arab region celebrates the World Day for Safety and Health at Work [International Workers’ Memorial Day]. This occasion, always, reveals alarming indicators. More than two million male and female workers annually lose their lives and more than 400,000 workers are exposed to injuries due to work accidents, that take place in light of the economic repercussions that represent nearly 4% of the global GDP.
In this regard, Shaher Sa’ed, President of the Arab Trade Union Confederation (ATUC), stated that “it is no longer acceptable to continue lightly dealing with the issue of occupational safety and health, that represent one of the most fundamental rights of workers. The concerned parties, ministries of labour, ministries of health, employers and representatives of workers should review occupational safety and health policies within the framework of a social dialogue in accordance with the international labour conventions on occupational safety and health, mainly Conventions 155, 161, and 187.”
In general, the Arab region witnesses many lacunas in the legislations and regulation of occupational safety and health systems.
In this regard, Hind Benammar, the acting executive secretary, mentioned that “although the issue of occupational safety and health is a concern among all social partners, it is required that this consensus be articulated in national legislation and policies based on the inclusion of occupational safety and health in the curricula of education and trainings, reviewing labour inspection systems in both quantity and quality, and funding health and safety programmes.”
As for the lacunas of Arab ratification of international labour agreements related to occupational safety and health, the acting executive secretary stated that “only Algeria and Bahrain have ratified Convention No. 155. Iraq, Morocco, and Tunisia have ratified Convention No. 187. However, no Arab country has ratified Convention No. 161, on the importance of the government’s engagement with occupational safety and health. On our part, as trade unions, we made all the necessary efforts to secure all safety measures for our workers in all our negotiations. Our aim is to encourage all Arab countries to ratify these agreements and implement national policies respecting occupational health and safety agreements.”
FGBB, a Tunisian affiliate of the global construction federation BWI has reported that safety campaigning actions will be held to mark International Workers’ Memorial Day, involving over 200 workers.
On 25 April, FGBB, BWI’s affiliate in Tunisia mobilised its members in four major companies to celebrate IWMD. The unions visited AFRICA WORKS a construction company and three cement companies— Colacem, Jabal Al Wassat Cemen,t and Carthage Cement to campaign for better health and safety conditions. The FGBB used the opportunity to distribute OHS campaign materials.
BWI affiliate FGBB will conduct work site visits and distribute information brochures to organise workers and improve occupational health.
In Lebanon GSTU will hold a press conference and distribute brochures at work sites in Chekka and Tripoli.
In Jordan GTUCW will target Amman construction companies holding meetings with workers and distributing brochures.
On 28 April, at the Construction Vocational Training Center in Cairo, Egyptian union GTUBWW is to hold a workshop on the importance of occupational health and safety. The workshop will be followed by a visit to cement plants to meet workers and investigate the safety and health issues they are facing
Bahrain: Between 20 and 23 April GFBTU is to hold workshops on how to avoid worker safety and health risks in the construction sector. On the 28th GFBTU will hold an open ceremony for all workers and distribute brochures.
In Tunisia FGBB will distribute brochures to mark 28 April.