LABOR leaders and government officials held a ceremonial candle-lighting yesterday in honor of the millions of workers around the world who died from work-related accidents
The ceremony was part of the observance of the International Workers Memorial Day.
Before the candle-lighting, labor leaders and government officials made a pledge of commitment to promote occupational safety and health.
Art Barrit, spokesperson of the Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP), said aside from occupational safety and health, the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) should stop discrimination against employees diagnosed with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
“This kind of discrimination persists and is spreading in the workplace,” Barrit said.
He said ALU-TUCP requested Dole to enforce International Labor Organization Convention 170 or the Chemicals Convention adopted in June 1990, which aims to reduce the incidence of chemically induced illnesses and injuries at work.
ALU-TUCP advocates for the elimination of asbestos in the country.
“Based on the data of the International Trade Union Council (ITUC), hazardous chemicals kill 440,000 workers annually and asbestos claims 100,000 lives a year,” Barrit said. “This means, one worker dies every 15 seconds worldwide and 6,000 workers die every day. More people die while at work than those fighting wars.”
Crispin Soriano Jr., president of the Construction Workers Solidarity, said his group supports the elimination of asbestos.
ALU-TUCP also identified drug abuse as another hazard in the workplace, which resulted in injuries and deaths.
Barrit said ALU-TUCP calls on the government to strictly implement Dole Order 53-03, which sets in place policies and programs to ensure a drug-free workplace.
“If the local government units are very strict (with the) implementation of the program, why is Dole silent about it?" Barrit asked.
Engineer Vicente Abordo of DOLE 7 said asbestos was phased out by the government in 2010.