BWI Solidarity Statement on the Beirut Explosion

(AP Photo/ Hassan Amar)

The Building and Woodworkers’ International (BWI) expresses its sympathies to the Lebanese people on the recent tragedy arising from the explosion at the Beirut Port on Tuesday 4 August 2020. We are deeply saddened over the rising number of deaths and injuries, many of whom are workers and the hardships being faced by the hundreds of thousands of people that have been displaced from their homes that are now also at increased risk of exposure during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

If reports are true that the blast was caused by an explosive substance had been allowed to be stored in the port for years without action, then the Beirut Port tragedy shows that Lebanon needs to introduce immediate steps to improve safety conditions for workers and citizens. While the Lebanese authorities must criminally charge those responsible for the negligent storage of this dangerous substance, they also need to act immediately to ensure that workplaces comply with international labour standards stipulated by International Labour Organization (ILO) Conventions.

This tragedy adds to the burden of economic turmoil that the people of Lebanon are facing. We have been following with growing concern the financial meltdown in the country in the past few months, with rapidly rising unemployment, skyrocketing food inflation and fuel shortages that have resulted in excessive power cuts, and crippling healthcare facilities – which is under strain due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.    

It is very disheartening to hear of so many people who continue to suffer because of the chronic mismanagement by the government of Lebanon that has led to the worst economic crisis the country has ever faced. Inevitably this has led to insecurity in the workplace as workers and their families are made to pay the price for political and economic woes. 

BWI stands in solidarity with our affiliate General Services Employees’ Trade Union of Lebanon (GSTU) under the leadership of its President Antoun Antoun, with the whole workers movement in the country as well including those representing the migrants, and with the people of Lebanon during this difficult time. 

We share the demand for an independent investigation of the blast and to ensure that at this time when many people’s lives depend on immediate access to support, international aid coming to the country is distributed fairly.   

We support the calls that the victims of the explosion get the justice they deserve and the support to rebuild their lives.