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workers change the world

new york 05

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newsletter volume 20, number 2
april 2006

asian workers organising page 4

asbestos kills

In early March, six workers fitting out an
entertainment venue in Glen Waverly suburban
Melbourne, spent a week cutting up and installing
internal wall panelling, recently imported from

The manufacturer’s website clearly states that
the product is 100% asbestos free, so it was
imported in good faith. But concerns were raised
that the panels might contain asbestos. Two
panels were subsequently sent for testing and the
results showed they contained Chrysotile (white

Work stopped immediately on the job and the
CFMEU issued a nationwide alert over the alarming discovery. WorkSafe Victoria and the Australian Customs Services have been informed, also the Department of Human Services Victoria.

Six families now have reason to be concerned
about their future health. The wall panels are currently being removed and disposed as contaminated waste by a Class A Asbestos Removalist at significant expense to the developer. For 20 years building workers
have been eradicating asbestos from our buildings under strict safety guidelines and specifications.

For two years we’ve had a complete prohibition on imports of asbestos products to Australia.
All this is for good reason. Exposure to asbestos
fibres is known to cause fatal Mesothelioma and
lung cancer, as well as being associated with
cancer of the colon, vocal chords, rectum and
kidneys. It is a death sentence and Australia has
the highest per capita rate of Mesothelioma in the

According to workers compensation statistics for
2002-2003, Asbestosis was the most common
condition leading to a fatality for the Construction
Industry. For years, we’ve struggled with the shameful effects of exposure to this deadly fibre, but from this incident, it’s clear we have to exercise even more diligence to ensure that imported products are genuinely asbestos free.
After some research, it was discovered that the
manufacturer is a Canadian and Chinese Joint

Pat Preston
Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union
Manager, Occupational Health and Safety Unit

Australian Trade Unions have led the call for a ban on asbestos, and this has been taken up at the International level. This May Day, get behind the International call for a ban on asbestos

there is only one useful thing you can do with asbestos. ban it!

Asbestos is the world’s biggest ever industrial killer.

International Labour Organisation figures suggest
asbestos diseases could eventually claim the lives of as many as 10 million people worldwide. At least 100,000 die each year — one person every five minutes.

According to the ICFTU, global Unions kicked off a world campaign to ban the use of asbestos on 8 June 2005 in Geneva. Some 4,000 worker, employer and government representatives from around the world gathered for the annual conference of the UN’s 178-member International Labour Organization (ILO).

Join the global call for a ban on asbestos.

For more information, go to:, or  



Asian Workers Organising, April 06

Asian Workers Organising, February 06

APWSL Newsletter December 05


workers change the world

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