Cambodia: First Tripartite Consultation Workshop a Big Success!
Earlier this month, APHEDA’s partner organisation, the Building Wood Workers Trade Union Federation (BWTUC), took the lead on Cambodia’s first Tripartite Consultation on Responding to Asbestos Hazards in the Construction Sector. Given the difficult industrial situation in Cambodia, the workshop was a significant achievement for BWTUC who successfully brought top government, business and trade union leaders together to call for action on protecting construction workers from exposure to chrysotile asbestos.
Building Wood Workers Trade Union Federation (BWTUC) lead the way on asbestos consultation
The current industrial situation in Cambodia is extremely challenging for trade unions to say the least. All the more credit to BWTUC who successfully brought top government, business and trade union leaders together this month to call for action on protecting construction workers from exposure to chrysotile asbestos. Cambodian NGOs from the information network, CAMBAN, also participated. Like most of South East Asia, there is little regulation on asbestos use either in current buildings or in importing asbestos. Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA is working with both trade unions and government to raise awareness of the issue and advocate for phasing out of asbestos use. Asia is the last big market for this deadly product.
First Tripartite Consultation Workshop a Big Success!
The 2020 Tripartite Consultation Workshop ‘Responding to the risks of asbestos exposure and diseases in the Cambodian Construction Sector’ initiated by the Building and Woodworkers Trade Union (BWTUC) took place on 9 October 2020. It was the first time bringing tripartite partners from government, business and trade union together on this issue. 28 people representing the Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Commerce, Employers in Construction sector, trade unions in the construction sector, national and international NGOs came together to discuss asbestos exposure risks and responses and to consult on how to respond to this risk. The meeting brought leaders from key building trade unions, led by BWTUC, two key employer organisations – Construction Association and EOROCHAM – as well as representatives from two Ministries including the Secretary of State from the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training (MoLVT) together on this issue.
Aims of the Workshop
The workshop aimed to improve cooperation and relationships among stakeholders in construction sector to:
- prevent effects of asbestos exposure and disease
- to raise awareness of asbestos hazards for construction workers and
- discuss measures to address these effects and identify priority work areas.
The BWTUC had a number of requests for employers and government including for the private sector employers to:
- collaborate with BWTUC by allowing workers to have time and facilities to get the asbestos training,
- implement safety measures on worksites,
- identifying asbestos containing materials used on sites,
- providing training to site managers on the danger of asbestos,
- declaring the employer’s commitment to make the worksites free of asbestos.
The BWTUC also requested the Government especially MoLVT to consider updating the Asbestos National Profile as well as working to develop a long-term plan including policies and regulations to address asbestos risks. Good progress was made on these action points with the following comments from the key parties.
Mr Sok Kin President BWTUC:
‘BWTUC is working to inform workers of the risk and join with other who are concerned on this issue. There are still many people who don’t know its danger, and construction workers are highly vulnerable to asbestos exposure’.
Okhna Charles Van, Deputy Secretary General, representing the construction employers association (CCA):
‘CCF has been cooperating with the Ministry of Labour to work on the issues and is ready to collaborate further both with state agencies and trade unions to ensure worker safety’.
H.E. Huy Hansong, Secretary of State of the MoLVT ‘
‘It is very nice to have such a tripartite plus gathering to see asbestos interventions and prepare for further collaborations. We have to understand and raise the danger of asbestos to people. We can not fully protect workers and people from the danger of asbestos until we stop using it. Asbestos is very small. It is danger for workers who don’t have enough material protection when they remove asbestos.’
Mr. Charles Amar, representative of of European Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia:
‘Asbestos has been prohibited both in France and Europe. If they found asbestos in the new building construction, company would be punished by law. As in today, asbestos have been used in Cambodia and we have noted that many people still are not aware of the danger of asbestos. We do expect to have more regulation and policy to ban asbestos so that workers and the public can be protected from these types of cancer’.
More about BWTUC
The Building Wood Workers Trade Union Federation (BWTUC) represents construction workers in Cambodia. The union leads on advocacy and awareness in regard asbestos hazards. Working closely with Union Aid Abroad, BWTUC runs information sessions for workers and advocacy to employers and government on reducing exposure risks and phasing out asbestos use completely in Cambodia.
Join the Campaign to Ban Asbestos
We are building a movement of people in Australia to join with unionists and campaigners across South East Asia to support their struggle to ban asbestos and eliminate asbestos-related diseases. We want to secure an asbestos-free future because as long as asbestos is being used anywhere, it remains a risk everywhere.