Indian trade unionists urge Government of Kerala to ban asbestos


Observing International Workers' Memorial Day on April 27, 2012, at Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, affiliates of BWI and IMF called on Mr.Oommen Chandy, Hon'ble Chief Minister, Government of Kerala to ban asbestos in the state.

INDIA: Commemorating the International Workers' Memorial Day on April 27, 2012 at Thiruvananthapuram, State capital of Kerala, the state leadership of central trade unions INTUC, AITUC, CITU and IMF, BWI affiliate KKNTC urged the Government of Kerala to ban asbestos.  In a memorandum to Mr. Oommen Chandy, Hon'ble Chief Minister of Kerala, unions stated that "about 50 countries besides International Labour Organization (ILO), World Health Organization (WHO) and International Agency for Research on Cancer have realised "safe and controlled use" of asbestos is not possible and consequently have banned asbestos because of the incurable but preventable cancer caused by this killer fibre".
The event was jointly organized by the BWI and IMF in pursuance of the Federal State ban approach agreed upon last year. Earlier in the day, inaugurating the event, CITU General Secretary and former Member of Parliament, M.M. Lawrence stated "the vulnerable Indian work force in the hazardous Asbestos industry needs to be made aware of the dangers of this fibre and trade unions should collectively raise voice against its elimination at the earliest". In his address, AITUC General Secretary, Kanam Rajendran urged that "when safer alternatives are available then Asbestos imports needs to be banned in India".

Delivering the keynote address, Bro. Sudhershan Rao Sarde, IMF Director for South Asia urged the Government of Kerala for a total ban of asbestos in the state. He emphasized that the State Government should immediately implement the decision of the State Human Rights Commission announced on January 31, 2009, acknowledging Asbestos as a health hazard and its directives to the state government to avoid using of Asbestos in school buildings and instead use country made tiles.
Bro. Anup Srivastava, Education Officer, BWI-South Asia explained the memorandum and the key demands put forth before the Kerala State Government.

Ending the event on a high note, KKNTC President Bro. Elizebius Master urged that the struggle for a ban needs to continue and appealed to the leadership of all central trade unions to initiate a joint Ban Asbestos signature campaign throughout the state and maintain the campaign momentum till the total ban on asbestos is achieved.