SELLING DEATH Most of Canada’s output is for export, mainly to developing countries, principally India, Thailand and Indonesia. Canada’s pro-asbestos lobby faced stern criticism in May for wrongly implying a long-delayed and still unpublished government commissioned report opposed a ban on asbestos. Here, an Indian worker with no protection cuts asbestos cloth.

CANADA’S SHAME The Chrysotile Institute is heavily reliant on funding from the Canadian government. ETUC safety thinktank HESA says as a consequence the Canadian government is implicated in the “mass crime of asbestos use.” This child stands on asbestos waste in Brazil, one of Canada’s export markets.

HARD SELL At the July 2008 world safety congress in Korea, a large delegation from the Russian asbestos industry’s Chrysotile Alliance distributed literature claiming “chrysotile asbestos saves lives.” But conditions in this asbestos pipes factory in Eygpt and many others throughout the developing world are anything but safe.



Asbestos threats
Global asbestos industry resorts to thugs and courts

Asbestos threats

The asbestos industry may be ailing, but it’s not dead yet. Latest figures show in 2006, worldwide production of asbestos was 2,147,860 metric tonnes. The big five producers - Russia, China, Kazahkstan, Brazil and Canada – accounted for 94 per cent of production and 91 per cent of exports.

Asbestos is still a money-spinner, and the industry is investing in a major promotional drive to protect its trade in chrysotile (white asbestos). But it is not limiting this global campaign to product marketing. It is resorting to threats and the courts to harass campaigners for an asbestos ban.

A meeting of anti-asbestos campaigners in Thetford, Quebec, had to be cancelled this year after industry thugs “threatened our worker contacts with violence and firings,” a Canadian union activist said. Union campaigners at the World Health and Safety Congress in Korea in July 2008 were provided minders as the atmosphere soured. Asbestos industry association speakers at the congress made defamatory attacks on union and asbestos disease campaigners. And international delegates to a February ban asbestos conference organised by the global building unions’ federation BWI found the hotel lobby festooned with pro-asbestos materials on their arrival. Delegates were intimidated at the conference and, in some cases, on their flights home.

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Hazards 103
July-Sep 2008

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Key contacts

- International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS)
- Ban Asbestos Canada
- Hazards

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