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Indian trade unions urge Odisha Government to ban asbestos

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23 August, 2012Taking forward the Ban Asbestos campaign in India, on 11 August 2012, representatives of Indian central trade unions, IndustriALL Global Union and Building Workers’ International submitted a memorandum to the state labour and health ministers urging the Government of Odisha to ban asbestos.

Intensifying the efforts to Ban Asbestos in India, IndustriALL Global Union and Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI) organized a seminar on 11 August 2012 at Bhubaneswar, Odisha. Further, trade union representatives submitted a memorandum to the State Labour Minister, Mr. Bijayashree Routray and the Health Minister, Mr. Damodar Rout, urging the Government of Odisha to impose state-wide ban on all use of asbestos. 

Welcoming participants at the seminar, Rajendra Prasad Singha, State President of the trade union centre Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS), emphasized that trade unions need to accord priority to health and safety issues, including the deadly impact of asbestos and expressed that the deliberations during the seminar would help to shape the trade union strategy in the state.

Inaugurating the seminar, the State Labour MinisterRoutray stated, that asbestos has its hazards but at the same time stressed that alternate materials should be developed on large scale, which could replace asbestos. Similar sentiments were echoed by the Government Chief Whip Mr Prabhat Kumar Tripathy.

In his address, Sudhershan Rao Sarde, IndustriALL Regional Secretary for South Asia, called for a joint approach by the trade unions to impress upon the state governments to ban asbestos at the earliest.      

Anup Srivastava, Education Officer of BWI-South Asia, made a presentation on the global asbestos trade and explained the position of United Nations agencies on the issue. 

The seminar concluded with the formation of a committee for follow-up work to ban asbestos in the state, including preparation of materials in simple language for wider distribution among the general public. 

Participants at the seminar include the affiliates of IndustriALL Global Union, BWI in the state and state leadership of Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS), Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) and civil society activists.