Action in Geneva: Stop asbestos at last!

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Together with over 30 trade union and civil society organizations, we called for action from delegates at this year's Rotterdam Convention. In a joint action, Owen Tudor, ITUC Deputy General Secretary, handed over an open letter to the President of the Rotterdam Convention. It demands to finally overcome the blocking attitude of a few, who are responsible for over 200,000 asbestos deaths annually.

We are joining forces to fight for an improvement of the Rotterdam Convention.

Owen Tudor, Deputy General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) presents the open letter to the President of the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention, Mohammed Khashashneh.

Together with ACTU, BWI, IPEN (International Pollutants Elimination Network) and PAN (Pesticide Action Network), we also organized a side-event at the conference. The panel with experts from various international organizations and associations made it clear once again that the Rotterdam Convention urgently needs to be adapted in order to protect workers, especially in the global south, from asbestos and other toxic substances.

The expert panel at the side event will discuss urgently needed improvements to the Rotterdam Convention.

The expert panel at the side event will discuss urgently needed improvements to the Rotterdam Convention.

Overcoming the blockade

The stalemate must end. The vast majority of those responsible in other countries share our frustration. We demand that they take the appropriate steps by the next conference to adapt the Rotterdam Convention so that the blocking attitude of a few can finally be overcome.

Sriyono, Indonesia

Sriyono was also present in Geneva. He has worked in an asbestos textile factory for over 25 years. He was diagnosed with asbestosis.

I have worked for more than 25 years in an asbestos textile factory in Indonesia, which produces Thermal Insulation and gland packing using Chrysotile as raw materials and I have been diagnosed with asbestosis.

I am one of dozens of workers who mix, scratch, twist and weave asbestos chrysotile every day. Working without adequate personal protective equipment, asbestos sacks are lifted, and emptied by hand. Our work clothes are taken home to be washed, we eat, drink and rest in areas where asbestos is produced. Not many people know about this terrible condition because there is no information and public access to know that the materials used are toxic and harmful to human health. Every year, my health condition continues to decline. I always feel pain in the chest when I go to sleep, and coughs becomes a routine at night. With this condition, it was very difficult for me to work productively. Chrysotile asbestos will continue to flood developing countries, will be used freely in the market without warning of danger, without restrictions on use, without control. This is because of the role of the ladies and gentlemen who are present here, who still allow asbestos-Chrysotile to continue to be traded.

Today, I represent my friends who are exposed to asbestos disease, to call for solidarity that the problem of asbestos is not limited to traded industrial materials, but also health and human rights.

Stop saying that asbestos is a safe material, it’s just a myth. Once again I say “I am proof that asbestos-chrysotile is dangerous and toxic”. And out there, the victims will continue to grow. There will still be more people whose lungs are sore and injured. There will still be more families who will lose their loved ones, and one of the responsible parties is the ladies and gentlemen in this forum, for allowing dangerous toxic materials to circulate freely in the public.

For this reason, on this forum I ask the Indonesian delegation who were present, and other countries that care about humanity to voice the importance of including Chrysotile asbestos in the list of Annex III.

Open letter

To all delegates of the Rotterdam Convention COP 10 in Geneva

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