The June 2022 decision to recognise occupational health and safety as an International Labour Organisation ‘fundamental’ right was a major victory for trade unions, progressive governments, OSH professionals and victims’ groups. Now Claes-Mikael Stahl and Owen Tudor, respectively deputy general secretaries of the European and global union federations ETUC and ITUC, say unions are turning their attention to the harder task of putting the paper win into practice. They only 11 of the European Union’s 27 member states have ratified both core conventions – Convention 155 covers occupational health and safety, 187 its promotion. A further nine have ratified just one, and seven none at all. Writing in Social Europe, they note: “Our message is: stop compromising on workers’ fundamental right to a safe and healthy working environment. Ratify the core conventions, implement them and build them into national law and practice and international trade, investment and aid agreements.
Source: Social Europe.
GLOBAL: UK FIRMS DRIVING HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES ABROAD
UK companies operating overseas are afforded far greater legal protections than the citizens of the countries they operate in, a new report has fund. The Transform Trade charity said the majority of UK bilateral investment treaties (BITs) contain no mention of climate change, the environment or human rights, meaning companies are not held accountable for violations. Instead, it found the UK is playing a key role in the rise of cases where corporations sue states, in private courts, for lost profits under controversial investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanisms specified in BITs. Corporations based in the UK have brought 66 cases under the ISDS mechanism in the past 10 years, the third highest of any country based on all known cases, and the number has increased in recent years, the report said. None of the UK’s 99 current BITs contain provisions in relation to human rights, Transform Trade found.
Source: People Centred Trade - Why we need to transform trade now, Transform Trade, September 2022. The Guardian.
GLOBAL: CALL TO ACTION ON ASBESTOS BANS
Despite absolutely certainty of the cancer-causing properties of asbestos, many countries have yet to recognise the urgency of banning asbestos and do not support World Health Organisation’s (WHO) aim of reducing or ending the incidence of asbestos-related cancers, top cancer specialists have warned. Writing in the journal Lancet Oncology, they say representatives of ten countries - Russia, Kazakhstan, Syria, Zimbabwe, Kyrgyzstan, Venezuela, Pakistan, Cuba, India, and Iran - continue to block a 15-year-old bid to make chrysotile asbestos subject to UN Rotterdam Convention ‘prior informed consent’ rules. They say as the global asbestos cancer “epidemic shows no sign of abating, oncologists should reinforce the idea that the continued harm caused by asbestos cannot be reduced without ceasing all asbestos mining and trade, increasing public awareness, enforcing regulations, and improving diagnosis and treatment.”
Source: Nico van Zandwijk. John E J Rasko. Anthony M George. Arthur L Frank. Glen Reid. The silent malignant mesothelioma epidemic: a call to action, Perspectives, Essay, Lancet Oncology, volume 23, issue 10, pages 1245-1248, 1 October 2022. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1470-2045(22)00269-8