IndustriALL demonstrates outside the United Nations in Geneva during the Rotterdam Convention meeting in 2015.

Help us stop the asbestos trade

13.03.2017

IndustriALL Global Union is calling on affiliates to take action to help stop the deadly trade in asbestos. Please download the letter to send to your government. 

Hundreds of thousands of workers die every year from diseases caused by exposure to asbestos. It is the world’s worst industrial killer.

For years, many countries have been trying to list chrysotile asbestos as a toxic substance under the Rotterdam Convention, a United Nations treaty that requires dangerous substances on the list to be traded with prior consent and full knowledge of their hazards. 

However, these efforts have been repeatedly blocked by a handful of nations that still benefit from the asbestos trade, notably Russia and India.

IndustriALL is asking trade unions to write to their governments as soon as possible to support a proposal to amend the Rotterdam Convention so that no single country has the power of veto to stop a dangerous substance being on the list.

The proposal, submitted by 12 countries in the African region, would mean that in the absence of a consensus, a substance could be listed as hazardous if a majority of 75 per cent of parties supported that action.

The proposal will be addressed at the upcoming Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention, taking place from 24 April – 5 May 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland.

Two million tonnes of asbestos is still being mined, sold and used across the world every year.  And the deadly consequences will endure for decades to come.  If countries have to give prior informed consent to import chrysotile asbestos, it is expected to reduce the trade in the fatal mineral. 

Valter Sanches, IndustriALL’s General Secretary, said:

Every five minutes someone dies from exposure to asbestos and millions more suffer disability and pain. So long as any one party can exercise a veto over good science and common sense, the Rotterdam Convention is discredited. We count on your support to correct this.

Download the letter to send to your government on this page and help us in the fight for a global ban on asbestos. Please don't forget to tell us when you have a sent a letter at [email protected]