Call to Action: Heat Up Workers' Rights, not the Planet!
For workers in the Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI) sectors, the dangers of climate change are no longer a distant abstraction. Extreme climate events are making work more dangerous, threatening the homes and livelihoods of many.
During summer months, construction, building and wood and forestry workers toil under the scorching sun as temperatures exceed peak levels in large parts of the world, but their protections have hardly risen as much as the temperatures did. Heat waves can cause heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke; they can worsen chronic conditions such as cardiovascular, cerebrovascular and respiratory disease, chronic kidney disease, and diabetes-related conditions.
Workers face extreme weather events that can be treacherous and even deadly as they work outdoor to cool our houses, retrofit our public buildings, green our industries with their know-how and skills, and guarantee healthier environments in our neighbourhoods and cities for future generations.
BWI affiliated unions are key players in fighting for responsible construction and sustainable forestry management. Their struggle for a better world where we live and work in harmony with the environment is not a distant ideal, it is a matter of survival. They deserve decent and quality jobs, safe and healthy environments, better working conditions, social protection, access to training and reskilling and union representation.
The emission reduction we need will not be achieved only through market mechanisms or calls on companies to be responsible. It requires government leadership and the involvement of workers and their unions.
In the run up to the UN Climate Summit (COP28 Conference), BWI is launching a new campaign dubbed as “Heat-up Workers’ Rights, Not the Planet”. It seeks to recognise the importance of health and safety under extreme heat and extreme weather events, and to demand better jobs and conditions for workers in the time of a climate emergency.
Specifically, we ask BWI affiliates to take action at the national level starting on 10 July 2023 and during summer months and ahead of the next Climate Summit (COP28) in Dubai in December 2023, by:
- Organise workplace actions in support of workers’ rights to health and safety under extreme heat. Use campaign resources such as information sheets, videos and posters to promote the campaign
Download resources for actions and solidarity photos
- Print out the posters and post them at workplaces and other areas frequented by trade unionists and workers
Download campaign posters
- Take a selfie or a group photo with our campaign posters and post them on social media platforms with the campaign hashtags: #BeatTheHeat
- Use visuals on social media and share messages of support raising awareness on why construction, building and forestry workers need protections in the climate emergency
Download social media collaterals
- Record a short video message from sites on how heat stress is affecting work and send it to BWI regional staff and/or BWI Global Campaigns Director Paola Cammilli at paola.cammilli(at)bwint.org ideally by 3 August 2023
- Writing to relevant government ministries, issuing a media statement or organising a local action demanding, as appropriate to the local situation, company or employer, to urgently negotiate and implement measures to promote the right to healthy and safe working environments for all all workers performing work in situations of adverse weather patterns, including extreme temperatures