LOHP Staff Participate in Conference to Set Asian OHS Agenda

ANROAV January 2011 The 150 delegates to the annual conference of the Asia Network for the Rights of Occupational Accident Victims (ANROAV) in Bandung, Indonesia, adopted a comprehensive declaration (see box) on October 20th calling for improved working conditions in job sites all across Asia. ANROAV is a network of more than 20 injured workers’ groups, trade unions, community and labor rights groups in 14 Asian countries, as well as affiliate members in Europe and the United States. The network was formed in 1997 following the catastrophic Kader and Zhili factory fires in Thailand and China that killed and injured hundreds of workers. Annual conferences are held to share experiences, resources and expertise among ANROAV member groups, and to coordinate joint campaigns. In addition to plenary sessions, three “skills share” workshops were conducted during the three-day event, including courses on lung diseases, victims organizing, and health hazards in the global electronics industry. The electronics hazards workshop was led by Robin Dewey and Laura Stock of the Labor Occupational Health Program (LOHP) at UC Berkeley, with assistance from Ted Smith of the International Campaign for Responsible Technology (ICRT) and MHSSN coordinator Garrett Brown. The 25-plus participants in the two-day workshop represented organizations in China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, and the United States. Plenary sessions were devoted to reports from ANROAV member organizations on national OHS issues and activities; and reports on key ANROAV campaigns around asbestos, silicosis, cadmium poisoning of Gold Peak battery workers in China, and cancers among Samsung workers in Korea. Gerhard Elsigan from the European Work Hazards Network and Dr. Ramin Mehrdad of Iran also spoke about OSH issues and activities in their countries. Twelve people from the United States attended the conference, representing the American Center for International Labor Solidarity (ACILS), the Hesperian Foundation, the Developing World Outreach Initiative (DWOI) of the Northern California Section of the American Industrial Hygiene Association, LOHP, ICRT and the MHSSN. Independent journalist Elizabeth Grossman also attended. Bandung Declaration on Occupational Safety and Health in Asia ANROAV Annual Conference Bandung, Indonesia October 17 to 20, 2010 We the participants of the 15th ANROAV conference, recognize the significance of the historic city of Bandung that upheld the principles of independence, freedom, sovereignty and dignity of people in the Asia Africa meeting to form the Non Aligned Nations 55 years ago. Asia has now taken centre stage of the global industrial production. The Asian region also suffers from the highest rates of industrial accidents, diseases and deaths with more than a million people dying every year due to work related reasons. This massacre of workers is an insult to the human rights framework that was soul of the Bandung declaration in 1955. Therefore in the spirit of the Bandung declaration, we the members of the ANROAV network pledge to work individually and collectively to: To take and support actions to develop ‘good work’: work that is safe, meaningful, socially just and environmentally sustainable; work that enables workers to develop skills and knowledge and have a reasonable life/ work balance; work where workers are treated with dignity and respect. To achieve this we will work and urge our governments to: ■ Acknowledge the magnitude of the problem, when more than a million workers are dying every year in Asia and millions more are getting sick or injured; ■ Act urgently, decisively and in good faith by making occupational safety and health (OSH) a priority policy issue. This should include the requirement of reporting all cases of occupational deaths and diseases in the respective countries. ILO Convention 155 should be ratified by all the governments in the region; ■ Recognize that heath and safety at the workplace is a fundamental human right of workers and that existing problems are due to the institutional failures and denial of these fundamental rights not because of the ‘carelessness of the workers’ which is often promoted by the corporate sector; Actively promote legislation and enforcement of laws to protect all workers irrespective of their legal status, especially the undocumented, informal and migrant workers and resist the attempts to weaken the existing laws and agreements which protect workers; ■ Recognize that workers and their organizations have to crucial role in implementation of the better health and safety at the workplace Organized and unionized workplaces are safe workplaces and efforts are made to protect the freedom of association at the workplaces; ■ Ensure that injured and sick workers receive prompt and immediate treatment, just compensation and rehabilitation within a reasonable timeframe. The whole process should be simplified to ensure that victims are not further penalized by unwarranted delays; ■ Ensure the proper diagnosis of occupational diseases by providing sufficient diagnostic clinics and specialists that are independent, transparent, and accountable; ■ Recognize that certain sections of the population are more vulnerable to the hazards at the workplace, due to their social exclusion and unequal status in the society. Special attention should be paid to protect these workers that include undocumented workers, migrants, women, and people of color and minorities to protect them and uphold their dignity; ■ Establish a legal framework which holds companies, brands and individual directors accountable for the criminal negligence leading to death, injury and exposure to disease of workers and citizens in any country. Companies should be also held accountable for the actions of their subsidiaries and sub-contractors; ■ Ensure that victims and their organizations are included in the decision making processes related to OSH policy. We also affirm that we will: ■ Develop solidarity with working people throughout the world to resist the transfer of risk from one country to another, with a major goal being a global ban on asbestos; make efforts to hold the global electronics industry responsible for the harm caused by unsafe working conditions and continue our efforts to ensure that the industry cleans up the whole supply chain; ■ Develop an active and democratically operating global network of health and safety activists where the unique and diverse organizing initiatives in different countries are respected and supported. Stop the Massacre of Workers in Asia NOW! Adapted from: Border/Line Health & Safety. Newsletter of the Maquiladora Health and Safety Support Network