Latin America and the Caribbean: Unions amplify call to recognise OHS as a fundamental right

For the second consecutive year, BWI-affiliated trade unions in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) raised their voices to push for the recognition of health and safety as a fundamental right by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The unions held various activities to support this call as part of this year’s commemoration of International Workers’ Memorial Day (IWMD).

Through meetings with workers, nationwide tours on occupational health and safety (OHS), press conferences, OHS training workshops and social media use for campaigning, 31 BWI-affiliated unions from 11 countries took part in BWI’s month-long IWMD campaign.

In Colombia, trade unions centred their campaign on OHS and the dignity of the working class. In the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, and Argentina, unions organised workshops focused on accident prevention and new forms of work.

Labour inspections were also held at construction projects in Brazil and Argentina to ensure hygiene and healthy measures, while meetings were organised in lumber plants through the Brazilian unions’ “Green April” campaign.

To cap the campaign, the BWI LAC recognised the “great victory” achieved by its affiliates in gathering signed OHS declarations with different construction, building materials and wood companies throughout the region. 

In total, 152 OHS declarations were signed with 3,080 companies covering 253,488 workers. Some of these companies include four Chambers of Construction in Peru, El Salvador and Argentina, and Faber-Castell, a big multinational company which is present in the Brazilian and Peruvian wood sector. 

The BWI affiliates that participated in this year’s IWMD campaign were: FETRACOM (Dominican Republic), SUNTRACS (Panama), SINCS-G (Guatemala), SOICSCES (El Salvador), INTERGREMIAL (Colombia), SUNTIMAVEN (Venezuela), SUTFACAP, FETRACEPPE and FTCCP (Peru), UOCRA, UOLRA and FOCRA (Argentina), FEDESOMEC (Ecuador), BITU (Jamaica), SINTICOM-Campinas, STICC-POA, FEQUIMFAR, SINTICOMP, SINTEPAV-BA, SINDCONGRU, CONTICOM, Químicos ABC, STI Químicas São Carlos, STI Químicas Manaus, SINTRACOM-Dourados, SINTRAMOG, SINTRICOMU, SITICOM FLORIPA, SINTRACONST-Rio, SINTRIVEL, SOMSJOP and MARRETA-PE (Brazil).