Alliance news

Who we are

This website belongs to the International Trade Unions’ International Alliance on Chrysotile, which aims to protect the interests of chrysotile workers around the world.

We are a trade union organisation, which backs the safe and responsible use of chrysotile and opposes the global chrysotile ban campaign.

We represent thousands of workers who are concerned their views and livelihoods are not being taken into account, particularly by organisations like the World Health Organization (WHO), which appears to be moving towards the introduction of a global ban on chrysotile and chrysotile based materials.

We believe that in doing this they are ignoring scientific studies that prove responsible and control use of chrysotile, using modern techniques and production technologies, is safe.

The long experience of many of our members, working in the chrysotile industry in Russia, and backed by scientific studies by the Russian Academy of Sciences and other international researchers, shows that the controlled use of chrysotile is possible.

However, our jobs, communities and livelihoods are under threat from an international anti-asbestos campaign, which, we believe, is ultimately motivated by commercial and political concerns.

Is it any coincidence that European countries that lack chrysotile mines and are behind the production of substitute materials are behind this campaign?

Our overriding concern is to improve the lives of our members, with better access to health care, improvements in occupational medicine and better working conditions. But a ban on chrysotile use threatens all this.

We have developed a Chrysotile Charter, backed by International Conference of Trade Unions and Chrysotile, which represents chrysotile workers in more than 15 countries.

We believe:

  • Important studies on the way chrysotile is used today are not being taken into account by those trying to impose a ban in favour of its substitutes.
  • Substitute products have not undergone the same rigorous scrutiny imposed on chrysotile, and the possible detrimental health effects from these materials need to be better understood and recognised.
  • All manufacturers must carefully observe health and safety regulations — no matter what fibre they are using.
  • The protection of workers and the general population must be based on reliable safety instructions and programmes — both for chrysotile materials and substitute products.
  • The rights of consumers and workers in developing countries, which, if a ban were imposed, would be faced with having to pay the high cost chrysotile substitutes, needs to be recognised.
  • The Director of the WHO’s occupational health and environment department has said chrysotile is a carcinogen and that every year at least 90,000 people died because of asbestos diseases.

However, this statement, and other like it, are being made without taking into consideration the crucial differences between chrysotile and more dangerous amphibole fibers, like blue and brown asbestos, which science proves are behind the majority of these illnesses.

We believe it is time for an open and frank discussion to determine the true risk of occupational and environmental exposure to chrysotile and for that debate to take in all views and scientific evidence, rather than continue to pander to a small, vocal, group of individuals with a vested interest in an international ban.