BWI affiliates declare war on workplace hazards, unite for a safer future

BWI trade union affiliates across Mozambique, Namibia, and Zambia are forging a formidable front in the fight for safer workplaces, sounding the alarm against growing hazards and championing worker protection. 

In a recent project evaluation and planning meeting attended by representatives from three unions, BWI, and SASK, crucial insights were gleaned on the progress and challenges of the 2023 initiative. Emphasising the urgent need for action, discussions centred on navigating potential obstacles looming over the SASK/BWI project in 2024. With an unwavering commitment to bolstering membership and safeguarding workers, affiliates like MANWU are seizing opportunities, such as the forthcoming USD 9.4 billion Green Hydrogen plant project. The project is expected to create approximately 15,000 direct jobs during the first four years of construction and 3,000 permanent jobs thereafter, with 90 percent of the workforce being drawn from the locals. Recognising the pivotal role of organized labour, MANWU plans to leverage this project to expand its ranks and enhance worker protection.

After the two-day evaluation and planning meeting, participants had a site visit to a road construction project managed by the Zhong Mei Engineering Group, a Chinese multinational company. The participants identified hazards and labour rights violations, reinforcing the pressing need for improved occupational health and safety standards. They also echoed BWI’s rallying cry: “Enough is enough—Let’s Talk Hazards,” to mark this year’s International Workers' Memorial Day 2024.

Patrick Sakala of NUBEGW concluded by affirming their united stand to ensure that workplaces are not only productive but safe havens for all workers. “Although we have achieved many OHS gains, we must continue doing so especially when new developments continue to expose ‘new’ OHS hazards. As activists, it is our collective duty to stop the impassive violation of human and labour rights in our lifetime and advance the workers’ OHS agenda. Through the BWI and SASK project, all three project unions can fulfil their respective mandates,” he said.