Peru: Unions’ push to reduce weight of manual handling of cement bags gains momentum

The Federation of Civil Construction Workers of Peru’s (FTCCP) campaign to reduce the weight of cement bags carried by workers gained momentum with the Federation of Cement and Premix Workers of Peru (FETRACEPPE) adding its voice to support the initiative. 

The FTCCP also said that Peru’s election of a new government creates new opportunities to push forward the campaign, which it started in 2018 when it joined other Latin American trade unions in demanding a reduction in the weight of cement bags from 50 to 25 kilos. 

The union said that a reduction in the weight of cement bags produced and carried by workers ensure their health and safety, particularly protecting the lumbar and musculoskeletal parts of their bodies from manually carrying heavy loads at workplaces. 

"We are going to work closely with other construction and cement workers to compel our authorities to implement an industry-wide policy reducing the weight of cement bags to 25 kilos,” FETRACEPPE General Secretary Luis Gilvonio Alegría said. 

FTCCP General Secretary Luis Villanueva welcomed the participation of FETRACEPPE to the campaign. He also said that they are drawing inspiration from the success of other Latin American trade unions on the issue. 

Villanueva said that Uruguay, through the campaign led by SUNCA, implemented the 25 kilo policy agreement which was signed by its Ministry of Labor and Social Security (MTSS), the state company ANCAP and other companies in 2011. 

In 2017 and 2018 respectively, Chile and Argentina implemented policies reducing the weight of manual handling loads. 

Likewise in 2018, the Brazilian government signed an agreement with 33 cement companies, including the Brazilian Association of Portland Cement (ABCP), the National Union of the Cement Industry (SNIC), and the Administrative Council of Economic Defense (CADE), on the weight reduction of cement bags. 

"BWI is very pleased to be able to support this move towards a better health and safety standard that is in line with the recommendations of the ILO and WHO, alleviates social security costs,  provides more sustainability to the construction and cement industry and protects jobs. May Peru be next success story  of our campaign!” said Nilton Freitas, BWI Regional Representative for Latin America and the Caribbean.