On 28 April – International Workers’ Memorial Day – unions should send a message that “health and safety protection at work must be recognised as a fundamental right for all”, according to the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).
The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed an occupational health crisis in workplaces worldwide. “So, whether it is Covid or occupational cancers, or workplace injuries and industrial diseases, every worker should have a right to a voice and a right to protection. No-one should have to die to make a living,” the global union announced in a statement.
The ITUC says workers are routinely denied even basic health and safety protections, including consultation with safety reps and safety committees on ‘Covid-safe’ policies and practices, free access to personal protective equipment and protection from victimisation for raising health and safety concerns.
Unions secured agreement at the International Labour Conference in 2019 that occupational health and safety should be recognised as a “fundamental right at work” by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). ITUC says the challenge now is to make sure this happens.