Occupational cancers kill at a rate of more than once a minute worldwide, according to a comprehensive review of the evidence by the ITUC.
The global union body, speaking out ahead of the 28 April International Workers’ Memorial Day, says this preventable waste of life must end and has a stern warning for rogue employers: “If you expose us, we’ll expose you.”
Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said: “Even conservative estimates put the annual occupational cancer toll at 660,000 deaths a year. A poisonous cocktail of toxic marketing and regulatory failure has already condemned another generation to an early grave. As long as there’s money to be made, industry will retain its fatal attachment to some of the most potent killers in history.”
This year on 28 April, the international campaign day when unions pledge to “remember the dead, and fight for the living”, the harm caused by workplace toxins is being put under the spotlight. A new ITUC guide, ‘Toxic work – stop deadly exposures today’, sets out how to remove toxic exposures from the workplace. At the centre of the union strategy is active, union-supported workforce participation, in finding problems and implementing solutions.
According to Burrow: “Some of the world’s most profitable companies are not just defending their toxic products, they are defending weak exposure standards that mean they profit and you pay. It is not ethical, it is not healthy and it is not what we bargained for. We make this pledge: if they expose us, we will expose them.”
- Statistics are included in a new ITUC-supported workplace cancer website, www.cancerhazards.org, which provides union representatives and others with the latest news on occupational cancer, including emerging scientific evidence and union initiatives to combat occupational causes of cancer.
2. Online campaign resources are available: ITUC occupational health and safety and 28 April activities. ‘Toxic work – stop deadly exposures today’.