International News

Global: UN experts urge ILO to back 'fundamental' safety
United Nations human rights experts have urged the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to immediately recognise and adopt safe and healthy working conditions as one of its fundamental principles and rights at work.

"Millions of workers around the world suffer from diseases and disabilities due to unsafe and unhealthy conditions of work. It is estimated that approximately two million workers die prematurely each year because of an unsafe or unhealthy workplace," the UN special rapporteurs on human rights said on 13 June, as the ILO held its centenary conference in Geneva. "Safe and healthy working conditions have been explicitly recognised under the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights since 1966 as a fundamental aspect of the right to just and favourable conditions of work. However, despite ILO Convention 155 [the ILO occupational health and safety convention], the right to safe and healthy working conditions is not among the 'Fundamental principles and rights at work' recognised by the ILO."

The UN experts added: "It is long overdue that the ILO recognises the right to safe and healthy working conditions as one of its fundamental principles and rights at work. The ILO's recognition is essential to help end the exploitation of workers who are forced to choose between a pay cheque and their health. It would be a fitting tribute to the millions who have lost their lives as a result of this abhorrent choice."
Read more: OHCHR news release. IUF news release. ILO fundamental principles and rights at work. Source: Risks 902

Bangladesh: Chinese and local workers fight after fatality
Police in Bangladesh have broken up a fight between hundreds of Chinese and Bangladeshi workers at the site of a partly-built China-funded power plant.  One Chinese worker was killed in the fighting in the southern district of Patuakhali. The violence erupted after a Bangladeshi worker fell to his death, and local workers reportedly accused the Chinese of trying to cover up the incident. Police said more than 1,000 officers were needed to restore calm. Read more: BBC news

Cambodia: Building collapses killing 28
In an incident involving another Chinese funded construction project, at least 28 workers were killed and another 26 injured on Saturday when a building under construction collapsed. Incredibly, rescuers searching the rubble in the Cambodian beach town of Sihanoukville, this week found two survivors two days after the collapse.

The seven-story building collapsed on top of dozens of construction workers as they slept on the second floor in the unfinished condominium that was doubling as their housing. It was being built in the thriving seaside resort town where there has been a rush of Chinese investment in recent years, especially in the casino, property and tourism sectors. Questions have been raised about construction standards. Yesterday a Cambodian court charged seven people, including five Chinese nationals, with involuntary manslaughter and conspiracy. Further, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen fired a top disaster management official on Monday for failing to take responsibility for the disaster and accepted the resignation of Yun Min, the governor of Preah Sihanouk province. Read more: The Canberra Times; Reuters

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