Building and Wood
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Taking forward the Ban Asbestos campaign in India, the BWI and the IndustriALL Global Union organised a 1-day Seminar on 11th August 2012 at Bhubaneswar (capital of the eastern Indian state of Orissa). The outcome of the seminar was the submission of a memorandum to the State Labour Minister Mr. Bijayashree Routray and the Health Minister Mr. Damodar Rout urging for a state wide ban on Asbestos.
The Orissa state leadership of major Indian central trade unions – Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS), Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) and All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) joined around 80 participants from different unions (including IndustriALL Global Union and BWI affiliates in the state) and civil society.
Welcoming the participants, the State HMS President Mr. Rajendra Prasad Singha emphasized that trade unions need to accord priority to health and safety issues, including Asbestos and expressed that the deliberations during the seminar would help to shape the trade union strategy in the state.
Inaugurating the seminar, the State Labour Minister, Mr. Routray stated “Asbestos has its hazards and several countries have pursued bans but at the same time stressed that alternate materials should be developed on large scale which could replace Asbestos”. Similar sentiments were echoed by the Government Chief Whip Mr. Prabhat Kumar Tripathy.
In his address, Bro. Sudhershan Rao Sarde, IndustriALL Regional Secretary for South Asia called for a joint approach by the trade unions and to impress upon the state government on invoking a ban in the soonest possible time frame.
Bro. Anup Srivastava, Education Officer, BWI-South Asia gave a background of the global Asbestos trade and explained the position of UN agencies on the issue.
The seminar ended on a high note, whereby participants decided upon the formation of a committee for follow-up work on asbestos hazards and prevention, including preparation of materials in local language for wider dissemination of information among workers and the general public.