Every year, over 220,000 people globally die from the consequences of exposure to asbestos. Nevertheless, the toxic building material continues to be used in numerous countries. In partnership with a global network of activists and trade unions, Solidar Suisse is fighting for a global ban on asbestos.
Carcinogenic and yet not banned
The use of asbestos has been banned since 1989 in Switzerland, yet the effects of the long-term damage are still felt today; the carcinogenic building material continues to kill over 100 people a year in the country. Those worst affected are retired construction workers who were exposed to asbestos decades ago.
Despite these negative experiences, the building material is still used in numerous countries outside of Europe, where it endangers the health of millions of people. Globally, over 220,000 people die annually from illnesses linked to asbestos exposure. This figure will yet rise significantly because the consequences of asbestos often only become apparent decades later. Russia is the largest producer of asbestos in the world and has to date lobbied successfully against global regulation of the trade in this toxic building material.
Solidar Suisse raises awareness among workers in Africa and South Asia. In Africa, we work with the international trade union, the Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI). Unions warn construction workers about the long-term damage caused by asbestos and familiarise them with protective measures that should be taken in the workplace. In South Asia, through our partner organisation Asia Monitor Resource Centre (AMRC), Solidar Suisse supports national and international networks that campaign against the use of asbestos.
In addition, we advocate for the Parties of the Rotterdam Convention on the International Trade in Hazardous Chemicals to hold further negotiations on the inclusion of asbestos on the list of hazardous chemicals. This would significantly restrict the international trade in asbestos and protect hundreds of thousands of workers.
Together with the trade union Unia, Solidar Suisse has successfully raised awareness around the risks associated with asbestos and convinced government representatives of the need for an international ban on asbestos. Within the framework of the 2019 meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention, attention was drawn to the problematic role played by Russia in international negotiations. The movement for a global ban on asbestos has become increasingly better connected in recent years.
Support Solidar Suisse in its work towards fair working conditions and a global ban on asbestos.