We did it! OHS is now a fundamental right!


We did it! Occupational health and safety (OHS) is now a fundamental right! The International Labour Conference (ILC) on 10 June has adopted a resolution to add the principle of a safe and healthy working environment to the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. 

Prior to this, the ILO has four categories of Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work: 1) freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining, 2) the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labour, 3) the effective abolition of child labour and, 4) the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.

With this ground-breaking development, Occupational Health and Safety is now secured as ILO’s fifth category of its Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.  

This is a historic and colossal victory for the global trade union movement which was made possible by the collective work of many campaigners and stakeholders, including the Building and Woodworkers’ International’s (BWI) health and safety campaign that impressively gathered 445 joint declarations between trade unions and employers calling for the recognition of OHS as a fundamental right, and covering 480,000 companies and 18 million workers worldwide. 

However, as we celebrate our victory, we remind ourselves of the gargantuan tasks that lie ahead. From the recognition of OHS as fundamental right, we now shift our campaign for its full implementation. All workers from different parts of the world must become conscious of this landmark agreement. 

Thus, BWI calls on all of its affiliates worldwide to mobilise their members and allies to raise the awareness of workers, employers and governments on this historic achievement, and to complete our victory by ensuring its full and uninterrupted implementation. 

Let us stay the course until all workers enjoy healthy and safe workplaces.