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    This man knows all about cancer – Simon Pickvance

    November 28, 2012 in SlideShow, Top News

    We are deeply saddened that Simon Pickvance has passed away. Simon was fighting a deadly battle against mesothelioma which he developed due to his work. The globalOSHmovement has lost a warrior in its fight for health and justice. Below is a message from Rory O’Neill who is editor of the Hazards Magazine about Simon –

    SIMON PICKVANCE, founder of Workers’ Health International Newsletter and pioneering occupational health worker and activist

    Simon Pickvance, our friend, brilliant colleague and consummate internationalist and networker, died on Friday. He had been diagnosed with mesothelioma two years ago, a consequence of one-time day job as a bricklayer as he developed innovative, worker-oriented occupational health support in primary care. Simon created Workers’ Health International Newsletter, which consolidated international information exchange and cooperation between union and health and safety activists and sympathetic medics and scientists worldwide. He was recently made an Emeritus Fellow of the Collegium Ramazzini. His work was also recognised in awards from the grassroots Construction Safety Campaign and Hazards Campaign. His earlier work as a molecular biologist was noted in John Sulston’s 2002 Nobel Prize lecture.

    A memorial event is planned for Tuesday 4 December inSheffield,England. If you’ve any thoughts or memories of Simon you’d like to share, we would love to hear them.


    Chinese factory-fire victim turned activist honored by world’s largest public health group

    November 27, 2012 in Latest News, SlideShow

    The New York Times headline read “Fire Ravages a Doll Factory In Southern China, Killing 81.”  It was November 1993, the city was Shenzhen and the location was the Zhili toy factory.   Ms. Yuying Chen, 17, was one of 250 workers in the factory.  Like many others, she had traveled from her rural farming community to the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone to work in a manufacturing plant.  She dutifully sent money back home to her family.  When the fire broke out, the workers found the doors and windows locked making escape difficult.   Ms. Chen suffered third-degree burns over 75 percent of her body.  She also lost fingers and toes on her left side.  The physical and emotional recovery was grueling, but she survived.  She didn’t just survive, she thrived.

    “After the initial trauma, Chen’s natural optimism reasserted itself,” notes the groupPeaceWomen Across the Globe.   Yuying Chen established the Self-Empowerment Service Center for Disabled Persons in Zhongxian County.  That’s one of the regions in China where people leave their families to work in the contract factories. She wanted migrant workers and disabled people to have a safe space to assemble and have access to information relevant to their life challenges.  Garrett Brown of the Maquiladora Health and Safety Network reports that one of the Center’s most popular resources is a handbook for migrant workers on their labor rights while employed in the contract factories. Read the rest of this entry →

    Indian Trade Unions and Labour-Health Activists Stage Protest In front Of Canadian Embassy To Oppose Canada’s Decision To Reopen Deadly Asbestos Mines

    July 26, 2012 in Latest News, lungdisease, SlideShow

    July 26, 2012, New Delhi: Outraged by Quebec’s Premier Mr Jean Charest’s decision to grant $58 million loan to revive the world’s oldest open pitted chrysotile (white) asbestos mine-the Jeffery Mine, representatives from Indian trade unions and labour-health activists today held a demonstration infront of the Canadian Embassy in New Delhi. The opening of the mine would mean export of over 5 million tonnes of cancer causing chrysotile asbestos to developing countries over the next quarter of a century.

    Terming it ‘scandoulous’, Anup Srivastava of Building and Woodworkers’ International said “At a time when countries in the west are counting bodies and grappling with the increased number of asbestos-caused cancers, it is indeed a scandal that Premier Charest has decided to be so generous to the industry.”.

    Handing over an open letter signed by 28 representatives of the Indian Trade Unions, victims, family members and civil society members addressed to the Canadian Prime Minister Harper and Quebec Premier Charest, the protestors demanded that the Canadian government immediately stop this ‘deadly’ loan which will sanction the asbestos industry ‘license to kill’ Indian workers. “The decision to fund Jeffery mines will have devastating impact on the health of millions of Indian workers, who will handle this dangerous fibre in factories and at construction sites”, said Mohit Gupta, Coordinator of a nation-wide network of labour and health activists- Occupational and Environmental Health Network of India. (Click here to read the letter)

    In India, it is estimated that over 100,000 workers get exposed routinely to asbestos and maybe a million more in ancillary industries and non-occupational settings. India uses over 400,000 metric tonnes of asbestos annually, mostly in construction industry. But a comprehensive mortality data and compensation records to show the scale of health devastation due asbestos consumption does not exist. Abysmal nature of the data is evident from the fact that despite over 50 years of use and a consumption of over 7 million tonnes in these last few decades, Employees State Insurance Corporation of India shows only 51 cases of compensation to workers suffering from asbestosis, a lung disease caused by asbestos exposure. And only 222 cases of mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer caused by asbestos in the protective lining of inner organs, has been registered by the Indian Cancer Registry, Gujarat Cancer and Research Institute and Tata Memorial Trust combined.

    Hiding behind this huge lack of data, Indian asbestos stakeholders, including the government and asbestos companies, and countries like Canada continue to trade in a known killer. The revival of the Jeffery mines, whose main customers will be Indian asbestos companies, is partly financed, to the tune of $25 million, by a consortium of international investors led by Canadian Indian Baljit Singh Chadha.
    Interesting, Jeffery mines was once owned by the American multinational Johns Mansville Corporation (JMC) which went bankrupt in 1982 paying liabilities to asbestos victims. JMC also had stakes in the notorious Sri Dijvijay Cement Company Limited in Ahmedabad, Gujarat which has seen over 62 cases of asbestos related diseases amongst workers, including three cancer deaths.

    A 2010 World Health Organization document revealed that “in 2004 asbestos-related lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis from occupational exposures resulted in 107,000 deaths and 1,523,000 DALYS [disability-adjusted life years].” It further attributed several thousands of deaths to other asbestos-related diseases, as well as to non-occupational exposures to asbestos. WHO estimates 125 million people are exposed to asbestos in countries around the world every year. Quebec itself, the heartland of Canada’s asbestos production, is facing an epidemic of asbestos-related diseases; data from the Quebec Workers’ Compensation Board reveals that 60% of occupational deaths in 2009 were due to asbestos.

    “Despite such damning evidence, why does the Quebec government want to breathe life into an evil industry that has caused so many deaths? It smacks of sheer arrogance and double standards and will taint Canada’s reputation for ever”, said the protestors.



    For more information contact:

    Mr. Mohit Gupta – Occupational and Environmental Health Network of India (OEHNI)
    Postal Address: Secretariat – Khasra Number 177, Neb Sarai, Shokeen Market, IGNOU Road, New Delhi-110068, India.
    Email – oehni.del@gmail.com,
    Tel: – 91-11-29531814

    Mr. Anup Srivastava – Building and Woodworkers International
    Postal Address – A-364, 1st Floor, Defence Colony, New Delhi-110024, India
    Email – anup.srivastava@bwint.org
    Tel: – 91-9810238394

    Asia facing ‘epidemic’ of worker deaths, report warns

    April 30, 2012 in Latest News, SlideShow, Top News

    Hong Kong (CNN) — Ramesh Makwana knew the risks to his health by working in an agate factory, but at $4 a day the rewards were too great.

    Now, after 14 years of breathing in the fine dust created by grinding and polishing the gemstone, Makwana has silicosis, a respiratory disease that swells the lungs.

    “He’s thankful to the stone because it helped him survive for so long. But now that he has lost so much, it is also a feeling of anger,” Makwana told CNN through an interpreter, Mohit Gupta, the co-ordinator for the Occupational, Environmental Health Network of India. Read the rest of this entry →

    Asbestos victims’ breakthrough

    February 27, 2012 in Latest News, SlideShow, Top News

    ‘Asbestos poisoners must be judged.’ This was the demand by contamination victims and their loved ones in Paris at a demonstration in 2005. First formal complaints in France date from 1996, but there has been no major criminal trial.
    Read the rest of this entry →

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