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Ban Asbestos: Indian unions engage in dialogue with Australian Senator

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25 July, 2012Indian trade unionists and Australian Labor Party Senator, Ms. Lisa Singh, shared various aspects of the Ban Asbestos campaign in India and Australia in a meeting on 18 July at New Delhi. They resolved to work closely to intensify the campaign to ban asbestos.

In a meeting with Ms. Lisa Singh, Australian Senator and a Ban Asbestos campaigner, representatives of the Indian national trade union centres shared various initiatives taken by the Indian unions to pressurise the Government of India to impose a total ban on the use of asbestos. The meeting was jointly organised by the IndustriALL Global Union, Building and Woodworkers’ International (BWI) and Occupational and Environmental Health Network of India (OEHNI). 

Senior leaders of Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS), All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) and Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) participated in the meeting. Joint initiatives of IndustriALL and BWI and the Indian unions’ campaign strategy of demanding a ban starting with federal states, leading to a national ban on all use of asbestos were discussed. 

Unionists also emphasised that the ban asbestos campaign needs to focus on the alternative to asbestos, lacunae in institutional mechanisms for diagnosis and treatment of asbestos related diseases and address the employment concerns arising from the ban asbestos campaign. They also underlined the need for an effective strategic campaign against the powerful asbestos lobby. 

Lisa Singh, the Australian Senator, shared her experiences of united struggle of trade unions OHS groups, environmentalists and CSOs that achieved a total ban on asbestos in Australia. She emphasized that various strategies adopted by Australian unions and civil society would be very useful for Indian Ban Asbestos campaigners. She volunteered to extend support to the ban asbestos initiatives in India, both in terms of experience sharing and material help.