Press Release – April 26
Hong Kong, China– Asia is home to some of the most dangerous workplaces in the world. The ILO estimates that 1.1 million work-related deaths, accounting for over half of the world’s fatalities, take place annually in Asia. On the eve of International Workers Memorial Day on April 28, Hong Kong-based Asia Monitor Resource Centre (AMRC) released a detailed report from six Asian countries namely China, India, Cambodia, Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia to portray the real situation of occupational safety and health (OSH) on the ground and the struggle of workers, victims and their families to gain recognition, compensation and justice.
The report was prepared in collaboration with the Asian Network for the Rights of Occupational and Environmental Victims (ANROEV) – a network of victims groups, trade unions, labour and environmental organizations based in 16 Asian countries all working towards a safe and healthy workplaces, OSH rights and environmental justice. These grassroots groups, frustrated by years of apathy by their governments and negligent employers, decided to produce their own report to show the extent of the problem at the ground with the hope it will draw public attention to the senseless massacre of workers across the region.
“Sick and injured workers in Asia remain invisible as most countries in Asia do not adequately report work-related deaths, injuries and diseases,” said AMRC Executive Director Sanjiv Pandita. “These victims are denied justice. Their dignity. Their deaths are the price that we as society have paid for the sake of development.”
Ramesh Makwana, a silicosis victim from Gujarat, India spoke about the problems of gem polishing workers. He comes from a village that is covered with a film of deadly silica dust from the gems that causes the occupational disease. “First it kills the men who are the primary breadwinners for their families. Then the disease kills the women who are forced to take over the work to survive and finally it takes our children,” he said. “Yet, we remain largely invisible to our governments and are denied compensation.”
The battle for compensation and justice was also echoed by an occupational disease victim from China. Ms. Wang, a former worker at a battery manufacturing plant, spoke about her working conditions in China where she was poisoned by cadmium. Her kidneys are damaged and she has not received any compensation for her illness. Instead she has been harassed by the company and government officials in her fight for justice.
The report is aimed to bring recognition for victims like Ramesh and Wang so that they receive treatment, compensation, rehabilitation and justice.