Workers intensify Asbestos ban campaign in Africa and Middle East


Warning that COVID-19 and exposure to Asbestos could increase the health and safety risks posed to workers, BWI trade unions in Africa and Middle East called for an intensification of their campaign to protect workers from toxic pollutants in workplaces.  

The unionists said that while asbestos is officially banned in many African and Middle East countries, very few countries have adopted regulations to deal with materials and products containing Asbestos, as well as house demolition services which might release Asbestos from friable Asbestos-containing materials. 

“Affiliates in the region have raised serious concerns on this issue. They all agreed that even as Asbestos is banned in many countries, the health and safety of many workers and different communities continue to be threatened due to poor regulation. There is a strong need to   lobby different stakeholders to do more on this issue,” BWI Regional Representative Crecentia Mofokeng said. 

The BWI affiliates agreed to intensify their campaign to ban all kinds of Asbestos and to establish clear and strong mechanisms to protect workers’ health and safety, and provide care to those exposed to the said hazardous chemical. They said that an Asbestos network was established to lead the campaign in the region in preparation for BWI’s participation to the next COP meeting on the Rotterdam Convention in 2021. The Rotterdam Convention is a multilateral treaty to promote shared responsibilities in relation to importation of hazardous chemicals.

On 15 June, the BWI Africa and Middle East hosted a webinar participated by 35 trade unionists who shared information and perspectives on the Asbestos situation in the region and the state of regulations in different countries.