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By John Millington
TRADES unionists from around the world called for a ban on the use of asbestos today and compensation for workers suffering industrial illnesses from exposure to the deadly substance.
Representatives from 5 continents shared harrowing stories of how asbestos is being increasingly manufactured in the developed world and used in the developing world.
World Federation of Trade Unions general secretary George Mavrikos told delegates attending:
“Asbestos keeps being present in many places where working class and their families work and live. Even in countries where the use of asbestos is now banned, there are still buildings, tools and machinery containing asbestos, as its removal requires money. In a number of developing countries, asbestos not only has not been banned yet, but continues to be extracted and used because of its low cost and lack of alternatives. Besides, for capitalists and a number of capitalist countries it continues to be a source of profit.
“It has been proven – and for that matter I believe that the rest of the speakers and the specialists invited will speak more extensively- that asbestos causes a number of malignancies and diseases leading to death like bronchial cancer , asbestosis , pleural mesothelioma and other health problems.”
He urged trade unionists across the world to recognise the danger, adding:
“The WFTU and its affiliates in 5 continents have dealt extensively with issues of health and safety at work and struggle daily so that these measures be respected, implemented and modernized. Employers’ and governments’ negligence on job health and safety issues (security measures, presence of doctors in workplaces, etc.) is a crime against the working class.
“Especially for asbestos, the labour movement has an obligation to demand full registration of asbestos contained in public buildings and facilities, that the state takes measures for the care and support for victims of asbestos and their rehabilitation. Also, strict implementation of the ban of asbestos (in countries where it is banned) and the universal ban of use of asbestos-containing materials and their replacement with safer ones, no matter the difficulties and the cost of doing so, should be in our orientation.”
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