ANROAV Annual Meeting 2009

August 11, 2009 in Latest News

ANROAV annual meeting is the decision making body for members of the network where future plans and direction of the network are discussed and the past activities are reviewed. In this year meeting, the main focus will be on sharing and devising strategies be it in victims organising, experiences in empowering workers and communities on OSH and also local information and organising experiences on lung diseases and bringing those local experiences to the Annual meeting to share with other members from the region and other parts of the world.

Thereby helping each other to strategise and strengthen ANROAV as a network and how to enhance fruitful partnership with similar networks across the globe, be it grassroot organizations, trade unions, workers centres, community groups and environmental groups and most importantly linking with other social movements who have similar safety and environmental concerns against hazards, industries that affect the health of the worker, family and community.

This year’s ANROAV meeting will also have simultaneous thematic skill share workshops to make discussions more focussed and strategic. The proposed workshops and facilitators are:

  • Victims Organising (led by TAVOI, Taiwan)
  • How to carry out effective OSH trainings (LOHP, USA)
  • Lung Diseases including silicosis and asbestosis – (CAD, India ; BANKO, BANJAN)


The key objectives of the 2009 annual meeting are as follows:

  • To provide updates on various ANROAV  struggles and campaigns -Silicosis (gem and jewellery), Mining , GP, Bhopal, Unilever and Electronics (SHARPS)
  • To devise strategies and plans on strengthening the victims’ movement and also spreading it across other regions.
  • Share experiences with OSH groups outside Asia and draw up joint strategies for future
  • Review the past activities of the ANROAV.
  • Propose the next year strategic plan
  • Formation of steering committee or taskforce for the execution of joint activities

Background – Occupational Health and Safety

Occupational Health and Safety: Our Right and Our Lives- the fight goes on!

In the year 2009, the economic tsunami that is sweeping through the world has taken its toll of investments, labour, jobs and workers lives. All around Asia workers are losing jobs and trade unions are focusing their attention to keeping jobs in the factories and workplaces as their primary concern. Leading to an environment where health and safety seems to be taking a back seat with mass layoffs, downsizing, foreclosures, relocation of factories, suspension of running of factories in full strength to cut costs has become the norm where employers seem to be buying time in this time of economic and financial insecurity by cutting losses. In this backdrop, workers who suffer from occupational accidents and diseases are really in the bottom in the list of priorities for the employers / management; therefore, workers needs are completely neglected and sidelined and seem to be virtually invisible in to total tally of profit making and productivity.

In June 2008, at the XVII World Congress on Safety and Health at Work, organised by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) [1] in Seoul, Korea, India’s labour secretary Sudha Pillai was invited to speak on strategies and programmes for safety and health in the future. This was surprising, considering India’s dismal health and safety record, with safety being accorded low priority by both government and industry.

The labour secretary’s presentation highlighted this aspect — it was devoid of any visual representations, data or numbers on the present status of occupational safety and health in India. Pillai spoke at length about the Indian government’s future strategies towards improving health and safety at work. But these improvements can only be made if the government has a clear view of the present situation.

It is estimated that unsafe work conditions is one of the leading causes of death and disability among India’s working population. These deaths are needless and preventable. Unlike growth rates and GDP figures that are flaunted every quarter, the figures of dying and ailing workers who make this growth possible are never recorded or spoken about. The only way to get an idea of the scale of the problem is from data released by the ILO[2], which estimates that around 403,000 people in India die every year due to work-related problems. To give some idea of the scale — more than 1,000 workers die every day from work-related diseases; that’s about 46 every hour!

Though these figures are alarming, they might be a conservative estimate as the ILO does not receive complete and reliable data from India. For example, in 2003, India reported 179 fatal accidents, while the ILO put the estimate at 47,000.

There are no reliable figures for occupational diseases either. The ILO arrives at these figures by extrapolating them from developed countries like Denmark where every accident and disease is reported.[3]

Hazardous materials are still being dumped in the region and there is an export of hazardous materials which the developed world has completely banned like asbestos and the export of e-waste into Asia. Ship breaking as an industry which is extremely toxic is the source of livelihood to thousands of workers in Asia where scrap iron is sourced for countries like Bangladesh which has no natural resources is the source of iron. Industries that deal with e-waste where workers and communities come in direct contact with hazardous chemicals and substances on an everyday basis are totally ignorant of the hazards involved. A more detailed study needs to be done on lifecycle assessment of industries like electronics and mining; from extraction to disposal and recycling.

Hazardous materials like asbestos which should be completely banned due to its toxic nature and the harm it inflicts on our lungs is still being very rampantly in the region with a very powerful industry lobbying to keep its use in Asia to serve the interest of a few and at the cost of the lives and health of millions. The industry is manipulating the market creating confusion on the dangerousness of asbestos with a misinformation campaign and how toxic it is and thereby it stays in our countries and is being widely used in various industries like construction,  fire proofing, heat resistance, hygiene products and packaging to mention a few. The only safe use of asbestos is NO USE!

To highlight and draw attention of grassroot groups in Asia to asbestos, ANROAV along with AMRC, IBAS, BANJAN, BANKO, HKCTU, ARIAV, BWI and IMF hosted the Asian Asbestos Conference 2009 in Hong Kong with a focus on building and empowering grassroots movements in Asia against asbestos. The most crucial outcome of this conference was recognizing the urgent need for coordinated action in Asia, a new group was launched at the conference: the Asian Ban Asbestos Network (A-BAN). The formation of A-BAN is a landmark in the Asian campaign to obtain justice for the asbestos-injured and to implement a regional asbestos ban. The group which consists mainly of asbestos victims’ organizations, labour unions and environmental justice groups from 16 Asian Pacific countries will work towards strengthening the grassroots Asbestos movement in Asia. A-BAN will be actively working on building a movement at the ground in Asian countries on education, diagnosis, identifying victims, treatment and compensation and strengthen the movement in the coming years towards a complete ban of asbestos in the region.

One of the gaping holes in terms of OSH is the lack of primary information from the ground and in the communities on what is the actual situation is regarding OSH, what are the industries where a lot of problems arise, what are the common hazards, what kind of diseases are commonly encountered, numbers with regards to OSH accidents and diseases locally, nationally and regionally, how useful are the laws in assisting workers to seek justice and what are the concerns of workers locally with regards to OSH. This basic information from the members of the ANROAV network will help us gain a clear snapshot of what’s going on in each country and help us assist each other in our struggles and building alliances and partnerships for our campaigns, strategies and work together in the future.

ANROAV members have ongoing campaigns like the GP Campaign, Bhopal Campaign, Unilever Mercury Poisoning Campaign and the Korean Sharps(Supporters for Health And Right of People in Semiconductor industry). 2009 marks the 25th Anniversary of the Bhopal Campaign for Justice will be an opportunity to increase the pressure on both Dow and the Indian government, and ensure justice for the people of Bhopal. Updates of these campaigns will be provided at the conference in September.

Workers are still being affected and dying in large numbers due to silicosis which is a silent killer in the region where workers, families and communities are dying deaths due to dust in their lungs and continue to do so. This is because of lack of identification and diagnosis about exposure to silica, how it affects us and what precautionary measures can be taken to protect the lungs of workers. This basic level of education and empowerment is still lacking and it is imperative to put in more resources, education, alternatives to safer work environment, education and campaign on silicosis. Though silicosis has been a focus of the ANROAV network for sometime, we still have to focus our attention on this deadly lung disease and work with renewed effort and resources in bringing down the numbers being affected and have a concerted campaign in the region on silicosis. Stories of successful organising and safer methods of gem polishing from China that was shared with India who are both members of ANROAV, needs to be shared to help strengthen the movement in Asia against silicosis.

Safe Mining is one of the major ANROAV campaigns, as mining is one of the most hazardous industry in Asia killing and maiming thousands of workers every year. China has one of the most unsafe mines in Asia. Though the accidents in the mines are widely reported, yet Coal miners pneumoconiosis continues to kill and disease more workers. ANROAV campaign has included increased campaign on disease awareness and exchange between the mining activists from India, China, Philippines and Indonesia.

Post ANROAV 2008, national OSH networks in India (OEHNI), China and Indonesia are getting stronger and are having joint activities, campaigns between groups and national level meetings. By carrying out joint research, trainings and campaigns and building alliances with other social movements like environmental groups who are also looking health and safety issues. Reports from the coordinators of these networks will be presented this year at ANROAV.


[1] 1The International Labour Organisation (ILO) is an international tripartite UN agency consisting of representation from workers, employers and governments of its member states. It aims to promote decent work conditions throughout the world

[2] Beyond deaths and injuries: The ILO’s role in promoting safe and healthy jobs’, the International Labour Organisation, 2008

[3] Status of Occupational Safety and Health in India, Sanjiv Pandita, AMRC.

Tentative program for ANROAV Annual Conference 2009

ANROAV 2009  
21 September Arrival To Phnom Penh
Location (Plenary)

22 September (Morning Session)


Key Presentation: Overall OSH situation in Asia.

Update on ANROAV activities and campaigns 2008 and proposed plans- IOHSAD, Coordinator of ANROAV

Updates on existing campaigns :

–         Gold Peak Batteries Campaign

–         Silicosis

–         Electronics – Semi conductors

–         Bhopal

–         Mining

Strengthening of National OSH networks

–         India

–         China

–         Indonesia

22 September (Afternoon Session) Break into Simultaneous workshops

( Note: The coordinators of the workshops/ trainings are responsible for preparing the concept note about the session, program and content and facilitating the session)

Suggested topics are:

–         Victims Organising (led by TAVOI, Taiwan)

–         How to carry out effective OSH trainings (LOHP, USA)

–         Lung Diseases including silicosis and Asbestos – (CAD, India ; BANKO, BANJAN)

23September (Full day Workshops/ trainings will continue
24 September ( Morning Session) Report back from the groups to the

plenary on outcomes and plans ahead for the group

–         Final Session- key issues arising

–         Action Plan

–         Close

Additional Meetings:
21 September (Afternoon session ) Asian- Ban Asbestos Network Meeting (members of A-BAN)
24 September (Afternoon session ) ANROAV Coordinating Committee (closed meeting)
24 September (Afternoon session ) China ANROAV sub group meeting

(Hong and China members)