Belgian authorities support BWI's health and safety declaration covering 18M workers worldwide
The Building and Woodworkers' International (BWI) and its Belgian trade unions ACV and FGTB, together with the multinational BESIX and Belgian authorities, jointly promoted a "declaration for safe and healthy workplaces" in Dubai on 4 February, 2022. The event was held on the occasion of the Belgian day at the Expo2020, and in the presence of the Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and his ministers, and the King and Queen.
In 2017, BWI signed a global framework agreement with BESIX to guarantee the rights of the workers it employs on its construction sites around the world. With the declaration, the Belgian authorities commit to carry the demands of the declaration at the European level and adopt a "strong position.” The Deputy Prime Minister also strongly encourages other governments to sign similar declarations in order to ensure the health and safety of workers globally while the conditions of workers, like in Qatar, are not yet resolved on the eve of the World Cup.
Ambet Yuson, BWI General Secretary, said that they will continue to fight to improve the working conditions of migrant workers and prioritizing their health and safety in construction sites. " Many improvements have taken place in Qatar through joint inspections with the Qatari authorities, but we want to ensure that their sustainability. We are now looking at replicating this model in the UAE which envisages important infrastructure projects in the near future. This approach can only be achieved through a constructive joint approach."
For Pierre Cuppens, Secretary General of ACV-BIE: " We are very pleased to be able to count on the support of the Belgian Government in this process. This declaration shows that trade unions, employers and politicians can unite for the same objective. What we are asking for is respect for every worker, in Belgium and abroad."
Gianni de Vlaminck, Federal Secretary of the FGTB said: "BESIX is one of the few multinationals in Europe to prioritize workers’ health and safety in Belgium, Europe and the world. This declaration stresses the importance of social dialogue and joint cooperation."
"We also want the ILO and governments to react so that health and safety become one of the criteria of fundamental rights and principles at work," said Geert Aelbrecht, Chief People Officer of the BESIX Group.
Meanwhile, a visit was held at BESIX DUT construction site which was joined by Vice Prime minister.
BESIX has several thousand workers worldwide. The company has participated in many projects, especially in the United Arab Emirates. In Dubai, the multinational employs nearly 3,000 migrant workers in its various projects, enjoying the same rights as the rest of its workers.