volume 20, number 2
asian workers organising page 1
work kills more than wars
According to the ILO there is one work-related
death every fifteen seconds.
Six thousand workers are killed by work every
This means that work kills 2.2 million workers
Work injures and mutilates workers also. Almost
270 million accidents are formally recorded each
year, of which 350,000 are recorded as causing
Illnesses also come from dangerous
Dangerous work leads to injuries, illnesses and
deaths, which could be prevented. Most disasters
and everyday hazardous practices at work are
preventable. Industrialised countries are exporting
their hazards to developing countries.
Where workers are fully unionised the serious
accident rate is half of workplaces where workers
are not organised.
Union Health and Safety Representatives are
key to workers organising to prevent injuries
and illness. Workers elect Health and Safety
Representatives to represent them. They must not
be appointed by management. They must have
legal rights (entitlements) to contribute to workers’ health and safety.
These rights include:
*The right to access all information on
*The right to be consulted on all issues
related to health and safety;
*The right to inspect workplaces immediately
in the event of accident/injury or after giving
*The right to participate in identification of
hazards, assessment of risk and decisions about
*The right to perform all of the HSR activities
on paid time;
*The right to represent co-workers on all
matters relevant to health and safety;
*The right to attend H&S training on paid
time with the employer covering costs;
*The right to seek assistance from any
person - such as their Union, Community Workers’
Health Organisations or Government;
*The legal rights to issue Notices to force
the employer control the risks; and
*The right to stop the process, if workers
are placed in immediate danger.
Trade union freedom is a vital factor in workplace
safety, all too often it is still flouted. In fact,
trade unionism is a high-risk occupation, just take
countries like Columbia and The Philippines.
fight for the living -
mourn for the dead
April 28 is the International Workers’ Memorial
It is intended to remember all those killed at
or by work, and to strengthen our resolve to
reduce risks and protect people from injury in
There are also many National Days of
Mourning for those killed by work.
In Bangladesh it is April 11, the anniversary
of the Spectrum-Shahriyar factory collapse
in Bangladesh. On that date, hundreds of
night-shift workers found themselves buried
under the debris of an industrial unit. Eventually 64 persons died and 74 were
In Thailand it is May 10, the anniversary of a fire in the Kadar toy factory
where 188 workers were killed in 1993 when they faced locked doors and no
28 April was initiated by Unions in Canada, chosen for International Workers
Memorial Day as it is the anniversary of the Occupational Health and Safety
Act in the USA and also commemorates the day that 28 people were killed in
a construction incident in Connecticut.
Since 1989 trade unions in the USA, UK, Asia, Europe and Africa have organised events on and around 28
The canary, pictured on the workers’ badge, has been sent down mines with the miners for centuries to show if
the air was turning bad. The canary died first - hopefully giving enough time for workers to escape.
Take a moment to think about those who have lost their
lives through their work and remember that we can
organise on the job to fight for the living.
Asian Workers Organising, April 06
Asian Workers Organising, February 06
APWSL Newsletter December 05