BWI – March 12, 2009

Philippine Trade Union Network on Asbestos Ban Formed

“Our collective strength will be more effective in pushing legislators and government agencies to take action,” opened Bro. Gerard Seno, National Vice President of the BWI affiliate Associated labor Unions (ALU).

Some 30 trade unionists representing 18 national centers/unions, federations, Global Union Federation (GUF) affiliates and local unions convened on 5 March 2009 in Quezon City, Manila, discussed the formation of a Philippine trade union network and developed a trade union advocacy agenda on asbestos ban.

To advance the ban asbestos campaign, the trade unions adopted the following pillars:

  • Passage of a Law – Push for the bills pending in Congress and ensure that provisions based on international standards and instruments are integrated
  • Formation of a Trade Union Network – Harness the individual and collective strengths of the unions to broaden support to the campaign and bring pressure from inside and outside the Philippines with the help of GUF affiliates
  • Engagement with Government Agencies – Work with government agencies to expand their asbestos policy protection mandates, improve compliance with their mandates and adopt a national program on the elimination of asbestos-related diseases
  • Monitoring Workers Exposed to Asbestos – Urge the creation of a central registry and medical surveillance of workers with exposures to asbestos
  • Public/Information Campaign – Educate legislators, government agencies, workers and unions, and the public and push them to take action on the issue

The network’s advocacy agenda were formulated based on these pillars. The trade unionists put their commitments in a Joint Communiqué signed by most participants. They agreed to participate in the activities and monitor developments of the campaign through a Technical Working Group (TWG) and periodic strategy meetings.

BWI, ALU and the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) gathered different trade unions regardless of their affiliation for this forum. The forum started an intensified ban asbestos campaign in the Philippines.

Decent Work not yet a reality in Forestry

“Forestry work is some of the most dangerous work in the world, carried out far from urban centres by small groups of workers, often housed in inhumane conditions. The majority are employed by sub-contractors, but their conditions are often determined by the customers of these companies, the major multinational wood and paper companies. This calls for increased cooperation with other global federations in those industries, including the ICEM and UNI Graphical, and with forestry certification systems in order to make decent work a reality.” This was part of the report given to the Conference on Decent Work by Bob Ramsay of BWI. The conference was organised by a number of trade union organizations in the Netherlands, including the BWI-affiliated FNV Bouw (Construction and Wood Workers Union) on March 6 in Utrecht.

Participants from a cross section of industries heard a number of stories from workers and trade union officials about the increasing numbers of casual, part-time and agency workers and their various precarious situations in the Dutch labour market. The conference also heard presentations from a number of Global Union Federations, including ICEM, IMF, IUF as well as the ILO about issues affecting their particular industries.

In the second half of the conference a number of workshops were organised to facilitate more detailed industry-specific discussions, including one on supply chains in the wood industry, facilitated by Coen van der Veer of FNV Bouw.