17 September, 2020Trade union members on all continents are working together this month to promote health and safety in the pulp, paper, graphical and packaging industries, particularly emphasizing workers’ rights to participate in safety management on the job.
This is the third global action of the 3R campaign led by IndustriALL Global Union and UNI Global Union. Each centres around one of three core rights:
- Right to know about hazards at work
- Right to refuse, or to shut down, unsafe work
- Right to participate fully in health and safety decision-making
All multinational companies across the industry have workplace health and safety programmes. Some are designed in corporate offices and sent to local managers to implement. Other companies do it differently, with unions and worker safety representatives involved in the creation of policies, programmes and procedures. This month’s work promotes those that are jointly designed and monitored by providing resources to union workers across the industries.
Leeann Foster, IndustriALL Pulp and Paper Sector Co-Chair and USW International Vice-President leads this safety and health work. She said:
“In North America we rolled out this third coordinated action on our Labour Day, 7 September. Over 70,000 USW paper workers have received the action materials. Nobody wants death or injury to occur in their industry, not unions, nor employers. But to make the change we must take action to ensure the three core rights of safety are a reality, and not just words.”
As the world grapples with the pandemic, many companies are rolling out new rules on health and safety, from personal hygiene, to restricted visitors, to physical distancing. This is a vital time for worker participation in identifying the hazards, and how to mitigate them.
Effective safety management of the mills and factories in this industry can only be achieved if workers have the Right to Participate in the decision making. Unions make work safer.
Joint Health and Safety Committees are provided by law in many countries, but they were initially products of collective bargaining. The worker representatives on those committees must be elected, and not chosen by management.
The two global unions active in these sectors, IndustriALL Global Union and UNI Global Union are working together to support these international safety actions.
President of UNI Graphical & Packaging, Joaquina Rodriguez Torrejon said:
“Experience shows us that in matters as important as health and safety, the management of the company cannot be the only one to decide. It is imperative to establish joint structures in which trade unions and employers jointly decide on measures to protect workers.”