Phillip Hazelton, Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA’s asbestos campaign coordinator, is on the ground in Geneva this week, working with comrades across the global union movement and allies in civil society to fight for reform to the rules that govern asbestos trade.
Here is his short speech to the floor of the Convention. APHEDA is proud to work alongside those in Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Indonesia who are advocating an end to asbestos use in their countries.
Chrysotile asbestos has been recommended for listing by the CRC for nearly 18 years.
It meets all criteria for listing.
Why has important information on this toxic substance not been provided to importing countries in all this time? For us, it is an example of the failure of this convention in meeting its objectives.
According to International Labour Organization/World Health Organization, asbestos kills more than 200,000 people every year, mostly workers. This is probably the most scientifically studied toxic substance in history. The toxicity of chrysotile asbestos is not in dispute anywhere, by independent scientists. Safer alternatives are readily available and widely in use around the world. We all know this.
In Australia, we are still suffering 4000 deaths a year, from asbestos exposure.
My organisation, the international global justice organisation of the Australian trade union movement, works on occupational health and workers’ rights programmes, supporting our partners in 15 countries in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and the Pacific.
Seeing so many of our friends and colleagues die from asbestos diseases in my country for so many decades, we are appalled at the continued exposure to chrysotile asbestos occurring across these regions, particularly Asia. This use of chrysotile asbestos in manufacturing, especially without information as to its toxic nature being provided to governments by exporting countries, is a tragedy. So often in Asia this manufacture is in circumstances of absolutely no health and safety regulations, no waste disposal regulations and very high levels of exposure.
Information to Parties in all regions is crucial to help them make decisions on chemical management to protect workers.
We plead with all parties to list chrysotile asbestos at this COP11.
Thank you Madam President