15 April 2020 18:06

BWI Action Alert: International Workers Memorial Day ‘Protect Workers! Stop COVID-19’

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives and that of the workers in our sectors, with new risks and fears not only for health and safety but for our overall wellbeing and that of our families and communities. Given that the pandemic is affecting all workers worldwide, including building and construction workers and wood and forestry workers, our work as a Global Union to be united has never been as relevant as it is today. International Workers Memorial Day (IWMD) is on Tuesday 28th of April 2020 and the BWI will campaign theme is year is "Protect Workers! Stop COVID-19" We encourage all affiliates to incorporate our theme in your respective campaigns so that your members can be part of the global campaign.

There are other serious health and safety issues continue to be important and should not be put aside this IWMD. We know that more than 100,000 construction workers die each year in preventable “accidents” on site. Forestry workers are also confronted with dangerous conditions that are notorious in the sector. Health and safety are undermined by the reliance of the forestry sector on informal and subcontracting work to boost their profits. The cement industry is also highly hazardous and accounts for hundreds of deaths in worksite accidents, and thousands of workers in the sector contract occupational diseases each year. The heavy use of outsourcing is also largely responsible for the lack of coherent management of hazards at work.

Precarious work in the sectors organised by the BWI affiliates is being paid for by workers with their health and their lives. Thus, the BWI supports IWMD campaign actions taken by affiliates on the need to prevent the loss of lives in these sectors. For example, affiliates active on our Lafarge Holcim campaign are likely to protest together on worker deaths at the company and outsourcing which is a contributing factor. Also, the BWI Youth Committee is organising its IWMD campaign under the sub theme “Life before Profit”.

The BWI also supports continued campaign actions on our longstanding Ban Asbestos campaign; meanwhile, two million tons of chrysotile asbestos is being put into the built environment every year – guaranteeing a deadly legacy for building workers and the public.

We encourage all IWMD campaign actions by affiliates to be shared with the BWI. Please send us photos, statements/messages and videos to info@bwint.org

The BWI Global IWMD Campaign: Protect Workers! Stop Covid-19

The BWI has put together a list of campaign actions that affiliates can consider which we will be able to incorporate under our global campaign theme. We suggest that campaign actions are carried out between 20 to 28 April 2020.

However, the type of action that is taken must ensure that safety of union officials, members and workers, so please consider this in your planning to ensure that COVID-19 precautions are strictly adhered to. With this in mind, the suggestions are for actions on site or virtually as appropriate to your situation, putting safety first.

1. Send us a photo of a worker with BWI posters by 23rd of April. The BWI will compile these in a global video of workers faces from around the world.

2. Make a short 1-minute video of a worker or workers telling us how they are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Please send these to us by 23rd of April. The BWI will compile all these in a global video of workers faces around the world.

3. Send letters to government and/or employers on health and safety concerns at the workplace and/or other worker issues relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can send us the letter and a short video (1 minute) of your union leader telling us of the demands.

4. Hold health and safety awareness training on COVID-19 at worksites which are operating: preferably in an open space, with limited number of workers that can be spaced two metres or 6 feet apart.

5. Conduct worksite inspections on compliance with health and safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at workplaces. Please send your observations with photographs and/or a short video (1 minute) to BWI identifying good and bad workplace practices.

6. Use the #BWI2020IWMD and share posts from BWI social media and like BWI new Facebook page BWI Global Union

7. Pay a one minute tribute to the workers who have died in the past year.

The BWI is developing posters that can be printed and shared online in various languages.

The BWI will post on its website the following:

• Simple training materials

• Infographics

• Other graphics and materials that can be shared on social media

• A video clip from the BWI that can be shared.

 For any questions, don't hesitate to contact your BWI Regional Office or you can contact the BWI Head Office at info@bwint.org