The fight to ban asbestos continues as Indonesia responds to COVID-19
Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA has worked with Local Initiative for Occupational Safety and Health Network (LION) Indonesia since late 2015. This education and campaigning organisation is based in the town of Bandung, West Java and plays a key role in the pursuit of banning asbestos importation, manufacture and widespread use across Indonesia. A founding member of INA-BAN, Indonesia’s Ban Asbestos Network, LION has been a key player in Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA’s Asbestos. Not Here. Not Anywhere. campaign across South East Asia.
Supporting trade unions to respond to the COVID19 crisis in Indonesia
In the last 12 months Indonesia has been severely impacted by COVID-19. There have been 45,000 deaths, more than 1.6 million infections, and many millions of workers have been laid off from work while poverty has increased. During this challenging period, LION has been able to quickly adapt campaigns and approaches to help the Indonesian trade union movement respond to the pandemic while continuing to maintain the grassroots movements in encouraging asbestos regulation in Indonesia.
Key achievements have included strengthening the OSH Victim Forum, a group of over 200 workers who have been injured at work by related incident or disease. The OSH Victim Forum were mobilised on information and advocacy to fight for their rights and protect other workers. They assisted trade unions to respond to OSH and on the issue of asbestos while advocating on behalf of members in regards to COVID-19.
This work has boosted support to trade union hotlines for workers to report incidents and violations during the pandemic. It has provided information and education on COVID-19 to union leaders and delegates and assisted the development of a good practice Workplace Protocol for COVID-19 that unions can use in enterprise bargaining.
In cooperation with the INABAN network, the focus of the ban asbestos campaign has been helping to consolidate the Bandung City asbestos ban regulation which was introduced in 2020 as well as advocate for other regional and national regulations to protect workers, consumers and post-disaster communities.
A book “Kita Bangkit – A Memoir of Accident and Occupational Disease Survivors” was launched in December 2020. The book brings stories of survivors of occupational accidents and disease to public attention for the first time. It tells the story of 6 survivors including 2 with asbestos related disease. The stories of struggle of these 6 workers show how they have transitioned from victims to health and safety activists, fighting for their rights and the rights of all workers.
Twin priorities for the year ahead: COVID-19 response and asbestos regulation
In the coming year, LION plans to continue along the twin tracks of helping trade unions respond to the COVID-19 crisis and continuing advocacy on reducing asbestos related disease by advocating for asbestos bans and supporting victims in Indonesia. A key element will be distributing information and awareness on asbestos exposure, the occupational risks of COVID-19 and other OSH issues for workers and the general public. During the pandemic, LION has also launched Video Podcasts and interviews with resource persons from trade union activists and trade union representatives. Topics included labour issues in Indonesia during the pandemic, the Omnibus law, women’s labour struggles, occupational health and safety and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic burden.
LION staff, Ajat Sudrajat, conducting Video Podcast (Bandung West Java)