must go: The IBAS campaign for an end to asbestos injustice
[Hazards 72, 15 November 2000]
Over 400 delegates
from 32 countries attended the Global Asbestos Congress in Brazil
in September 2000. Delegates,
including asbestos victims, trade unionists, academics, politicians
and campaigners, welcomed the September 2000 World Trade Organisation
decision that national asbestos bans are allowed under free trade
rules (Hazards 71).
speakers at the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS) organised
event, however, called for justice for the individuals and communities
affected by asbestos use and the slow death of asbestos trade, including
those devastated by multinational companies operating in the developing
world (see Hazards' 69 and 71).
The trade union
delegation at the Congress, trade unionists from international,
national and local organisations in Latin America, Asia, Africa,
North America and Europe, expressed "their commitment to a
global ban on the mining, manufacture, marketing and use of all
forms of asbestos and related products."
of nine key trade union demands for a fair and swift end to asbestos
trade was agreed.
ban: Trade unions should lobby their national governments to
introduce a ban on asbestos, as part of an international initiative
to ban asbestos throughout the world.
of workers: Trade unions should lobby their governments to ratify,
effectively apply and enforce ILO Convention 162 as a minimum standard
to protect workers who may be exposed to asbestos through their
work. Trade unions should ensure that the best protection methods
to prevent exposure to asbestos fibres is available to workers who
have to remove asbestos.
raising: Trade unions should develop and maintain a broad-based
international campaign to educate workers, the union movement and
the public about the risks of exposure to asbestos fibre and the
measures to be taken to prevent ill-health and to secure a global
ban on asbestos.
Trade unions should seek the replacement of asbestos with alternative
substances that are less harmful to human health and the environment.
Research should be promoted into technology to develop alternative
substances to asbestos where that technology does not currently
exchange: Trade unions in countries that manufacture and use
asbestos substitutes should distribute technical information on
the substitutes to sister unions in countries where those substitutes
are not currently manufactured and used.
* Just Transition:
Where workers may be displaced because of the introduction of an
asbestos ban, trade unions should lobby for a Just Transition to
protect the income, employment and welfare of those affected and
their communities (see sustainable
action: Trade unions should seek through their legal systems
to bring to justice those employers whose negligence has caused
asbestos diseases and environmental damage to the community. The
polluter must pay the remediation costs of any environmental damage
done by their operations.
Trade unions should seek appropriate and prompt compensation for
workers who suffer from asbestos related diseases.
Trade unions should campaign to ensure that the victims of asbestos
related disease will have access to appropriate medical treatment,
support services and information.
Trade Unions on Banning Asbestos Worldwide. Trade union delegation,
Global Asbestos Congress, Osasco, 17-20 September 2000.
Unions can contact the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat, at
IBAS, PO Box 93, Stanmore, HA7 4GR, England. email:
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