International News

UKRAINE FINALLY BANS ASBESTOS

A Parliamentary bill prohibiting the use of all types of asbestos and asbestos containing materials in Ukraine, was enacted September 6.

‘Finally, we will get rid of the health-threatening Soviet construction legacy and replace it with modern building materials that will preserve the health of both builders and residents of new buildings.’ Ukrainian politician, Olena Shulyak said.

The road to achieving the ban was not straightforward due to aggressive lobbying by Ukrainian and foreign pro-asbestos stakeholders.

In June 2017, Ukraine’s Ministry of Health outlawed asbestos use, only to have that prohibition quashed by the Ministry of Justice. Judicial and legislative actions were blocked on multiple occasions, testing both the stamina and conviction of campaigners in Parliament and in civic organizations.

On September 6 the parliamentary vote was won, and 14 years of campaigning finally saw asbestos banned in Ukraine.

Russia and Kazakhstan, the world’s two largest asbestos producers, had controlled the country’s asbestos dialogue and opposed the ban for years. It was from these countries, according to the Ministry of Health, that Ukraine imported 556,000 tons of asbestos between 2006-2016.

Between 2018 and 2020, Ukraine’s average annual consumption of asbestos was over 10,000 tonnes.

“Ukraine, Russian and former Soviet countries are riddled with asbestos. There has been a reluctance to recognise the problem and also to halt the mining and use of asbestos. Russia has one of the most aggressive asbestos industries in the world. Ukraine has its problems but the decision by the Ukrainian Parliament to ban asbestos is an illustration of the effectiveness of international campaigning against the asbestos industry which also has deep tentacles in Ukrainian industry. It is also a testament to the progress being made in the Ukrainian parliament regarding public and workers health issues. It has now taken a significant step to distance itself completely from the Russian asbestos influence.” said Counsel General for Wales and Member of the Welsh Parliament Mick Antoniw.

Read more on the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat’s webpage, here.

WORK-RELATED PSYCHOSOCIAL RISKS DRIVE HEALTH INEQUALITIES

Exposure to work-related psychosocial risks leads to avoidable health inequalities that are costly to workers, their families, employers, and society at large. A panel of experts discussed work-related psychosocial risks (PSR) at the ETUI-ETUC ‘Blueprint for Equality’ conference, concluding that many of the risks are avoidable, and more effort should be put into their prevention. Find out more

European social partners signed a joint Work Programme including negotiations on the right to disconnect

On 28 June 2022, the European social partners signed a joint 2022-2024 Work Programme that includes negotiations on legally binding measures to regulate telework and institute the right to disconnect.

Source: ETUI Find out more here.

THE GLOBAL RIGHTS INDEX 2022 TAKES STOCK OF TRADE UNION AND HUMAN RIGHTS

On 28 June 2022, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) launched the ninth edition of the annual Global Rights Index (GRI) tacking stock of trade union and human rights worldwide. The index rates 148 countries on the degree of respect for workers’ rights.

The output is an index ranging from 1 (sporadic violations) to 5+ (no guarantee of rights due to the breakdown of the rule of law), complemented by an interactive website where cases of violated rights and national ratings can be viewed by country and region.

The ten worst countries for workers in 2022 are Bangladesh, Belarus, Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Eswatini, Guatemala, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Turkey.

Examples from Australia include civil liberties violations relating to ACCC prosecutions against the CFMEU, and right to collective bargaining violations by stevedoring and container-management companies, against MUA members

Source: ETUI Find out more here.

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