Alliance news

The statement of the international trade union movement for chrysotile

Geneva 17.06.2011

On June 16, 2011 the Report of the Committee on the Application of Standards was finally approved by 100 International Labour Conference. During the work of the Committee, Canada was listed on the application of Asbestos Convention No.162.

In this connection the International Trade-union Movement For Chrysotile declares the following:
We fully agree with the point of view expressed by the Employer members who stated “…the general
Prohibition of chrysotile asbestos (also called white asbestos) could not be construed from the relevant
Provisions of the Convention, which distinguished between the various types of asbestos…”(ILS Provisional record 18 Part two, page 106).

The ILO Convention No.162 specifically prohibits the use of crocidolite (blue asbestos) and products containing this fibre. Spraying of all forms of asbestos is also prohibited.
The Government representative of Canada noted “ …the trade unions representing asbestos workers in province of Quebec not only supported the continuation of mining but an increase in investments in this industry. “(ILS Provisional record 18 Part two, page 103).

The Worker member of Brasil indicated that other trade union confederations did not share the views of the Canadian Labour Congress, as they supported the safe use of chrysotile asbestos.

The Employer members took due note of the information provided by the Government representative concerning diverging positions of Canadian trade unions on the subject. They stated that the Conference Committee was not a law-making body and could not call for a prohibition if the relevant Convention did not allow for one. They added that there were no violations by Canada of the requirements of the Convention. The Committee did not approve the call for a ban of chrysotile on behalf of some workers members.

It is the uncontrolled use of amphiboles in the past that have resulted in significant growth of asbestos-related diseases in the countries of Western Europe, Australia, South Africa, etc. In those countries, where chrysotile was historically applied, the essential growth of the asbestos-related diseases is not observed.

Moreover, latest scientific studies on chrysotile convincingly prove, that chrysotile alone does not appear to be a risk factor of developing mesothelioma and has less potent risk to developing of lung cancer, in comparison with amphiboles.

The foregoing is why the World Health Assembly- the highest decision making body of World Health Organization, adopted a differentiated approach to regulating chrysotile and amphiboles. (Global Plan of Workers’ Health p.10 WHA 60.26)

On 20th June 2011 begins COP V Meeting of Rotterdam Convention where chrysotile issue is again on the agenda.

The International Trade Union Movement for Chrysotile firmly follows the position of chrysotile safe use within the framework of decisions taken by highest decision making bodies of WHO and ILO concerning chrysotile and is strictly against inclusion of chrysotile asbestos into Annex III of Rotterdam Convention.