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    Uruguay becomes first country to ratify ILO Convention 190

    January 22, 2020

    Uruguay is the first country in the world to ratify the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Convention 190, which recognizes that violence and harassment in the world of work can constitute a human rights violation.

    The new Convention and Recommendation were adopted at the International Labour Conference in June, 2019. The Convention recognizes that violence and harassment are a threat to equal opportunities and are unacceptable and incompatible with decent work.

    The government of Uruguay submitted the ratification bill to Parliament in September 2019, and the House of Representatives unanimously adopted the bill on 17 December 2019, making Uruguay the first ILO Member State to ratify C190.

    “As it has now ratified the ILO Convention, Uruguay will have to adopt an inclusive, integrated and gender-responsive approach to preventing and eliminating violence and harassment in the world of work. This will apply to both the private and public sectors, to the formal and informal economy, and in both urban or rural areas,”said an official statement released by the Office of the President of Uruguay.


    The statement also said that legislation will require employers to take appropriate steps to prevent violence and harassment in the world of work.

    The ratification process was facilitated by the fact that Uruguay already has laws in place to address some of the issues covered by C190, such as legislation on sexual harassment in the workplace and concerning student-teacher relationships, as well as on gender-based violence against women.

    In November last year, IndustriALL Global Union launched a campaign to encourage affiliates to work together to ensure the ratification of the Convention and incorporation into domestic law. Through the gender office of Uruguay’s central union PIT-CNT, IndustriALL’s affiliates in Uruguay were actively involved in the tripartite talks on the ratification process. Gender office representative and UNTMRA member Fernanda Ceballos says on the recent ratification:

    “We promoted the ratification of C190 in Uruguay from the gender equality and diversity office of PIT-CNT. We have worked on the issue of sexual harassment and zero tolerance of violence in the workplace for a long time, and we are very aware of the issue of raising awareness with the different unions through workshops on gender violence.

    “In turn, we work on gender clauses, in conjunction with companies and the labour ministry. Once C190 was ratified, we held assemblies with UNTMRA to inform people of its scope. Many workers affiliated with UNTMRA have faced  of sexual harassment at work, so we believe that ratification is very important to fight for a world of violence-free work.”

    IndustriALL’s regional secretary, Marino Vani, says:

    “Convention 190 is an important tool for fighting discrimination and inequality in the workforce. We congratulate our affiliates in Uruguay for their tireless efforts to tackle gender-based violence, and the government for ratifying the new convention, which will help to create a world of work that is free of violence and harassment.”

    Source : http://www.industriall-union.org/uruguay-becomes-first-country-to-ratify-ilo-convention-190

    Keraniganj factory fire (Bangladesh): Death toll rises to 11

    December 12, 2019

    Ten employees including an engineer, who were severely burnt in yesterday’s factory fire in Keraniganj, died at Dhaka Medical College Hospital today.

    With this, the death toll from the fire at the plastic factory in Hijoltola area, on the outskirts of Dhaka, raised to 11.

    Ten of the deceased identities were found out of 11.

    Yesterday, at least one worker was killed and 33 others were severely burnt in the fire. Ten of them suffered 100 percent burns and the rest have burns in at least 20 percent of their bodies.

    Of the injured, 10 workers died at the burn unit of the hospital between 2:00 am and 9:00 am, DMCH Resident Surgeon Dr Nabin told The Daily Star.

    One of the injured workers Zakir Hossain, 22, said the fire broke out at a room where eight cylinders of inflammable gas were kept. He added that there was a leak in the lines.

    Around 300 people worked in two shifts at Prime Patent Plastic Limited. Around 150 people, including many women, were working when the fire started, said Zakir, who has been working there for the last four years for a monthly salary of Tk 12,000.

    Police said the fire broke out around 4:15pm and engulfed the large tin shack quickly.

    The factory used to manufacture single-use plastic glasses and plates.

    Source : The Daily Star

    Link : https://www.thedailystar.net/country/news/keraniganj-fire-death-toll-rises-9-1839316

    23 dead, 130 injured in Sudan factory fire

    December 9, 2019

    At least 23 people died and more than 130 were injured in Sudan after a fire triggered an explosion at a factory in northern Khartoum on 03 December 2019, according to state news agency SUNA.
    The incident happened while a tanker truck was offloading gas at a ceramics manufacturing company in an industrial area of the city, SUNA reported.
    Sudan’s Council of Ministers said it had set up a committee to investigate the circumstances that led to the fire and how such accidents could be prevented, the agency said.

    The preliminary death toll from the fire was 15, according to the Sudanese Doctors Union, which called on their colleagues that were off-duty to rush to the hospitals to help.
    Source : CNN

    Human rights are at threat from climate change, but can also provide solutions (UN Environment

    October 24, 2019

    Report on Environment 

    Key findings from the report to the United Nations General Assembly by David Boyd- the Special Rapporteur on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment. This report was developed with the support of the United Nations Environment Programme as part of our continued partnership with the Rapporteur’s office on advancing environmental rights.

    How climate change infringes on human rights

    Climate change is here, and it is impeding the fulfilment of our rights. The right to life is universally recognized as a fundamental human right, yet, every year, 150,000 premature deaths are being linked to the climate crisis—a number set to increase with rising temperatures.

    Climate-related deaths are caused by extreme weather events, heat waves, floods, droughts, wildfires, water-borne and vector-borne diseases, malnutrition and air pollution. The climate crisis threatens the right to water and sanitation, contributing to water crises like the one in Bolivia, where glaciers are receding, and water rationing has been required in major cities. At 2°C, 100 million more people are forecasted to face water insecurity.

    The climate emergency also violates the right to health, not only through premature deaths, but also through increased incidences of respiratory and cardiovascular disease, malnutrition, stunting, wasting, allergies, injuries and mental illness. For example, dengue fever is the most rapidly spreading vector-borne disease, with a thirtyfold increase in global incidence that is largely attributable to climate change. According to the Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change, the climate crisis is the biggest global health threat of the twenty-first century and could reverse five decades of progress in global health, particularly as it endangers the right to food.

    “Climate variability and extremes are among the key drivers behind the recent uptick in global hunger and one of the leading causes of severe food crises. The cumulative effect of changes in climate is undermining all dimensions of food security—food availability, access, utilization and stability,” says the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in its 2018 State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World.

    Entire communities, such as Vunidogoloa, Fiji, have been or are in the process of being relocated owing to rising sea levels, coastal erosion, storm surges, salinization and other climate impacts. It is estimated that by 2050, 150 million people or more could be displaced by the impacts of the climate crisis. Over a longer timeframe, entire states are at risk of becoming uninhabitable, including Kiribati, Maldives and Tuvalu. This displacement is threatening the right to a healthy environment.

    Using human rights approaches to inform climate change policies

    The right to a healthy environment is recognized in law by at least 155 Member States. The failure of states to take adequate steps to address climate change may constitute a violation of the right to a healthy environment, as several courts have recognized.

    As detailed in the Safe Climate report, governments have an obligation to take effective measures to mitigate climate change, enhance the adaptive capacity of vulnerable populations and prevent foreseeable loss of life. This includes preventing the potential violation of rights by third parties, especially businesses, as well as establishing, implementing and enforcing laws, policies and programmes to fulfil their citizens’ rights.

    Importantly, the Special Rapporteur calls on wealthy states to contribute their fair share towards the cost of mitigation and adaptation in low-income countries—as countries are not equally responsible—nor affected—by the climate crisis.

    Meanwhile, in his report he also identifies that, as a first step, corporations should comply with the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights as they pertain to human rights and climate change. Businesses should adopt human rights policies, conduct human rights due diligence, remedy human rights violations for which they are directly responsible, and work to influence other actors to respect human rights.

    Applying a rights-based approach clarifies the obligations of governments and businesses, catalyses ambitious action, highlights the plight of the poorest and most vulnerable, and empowers people to become involved in designing and implementing solutions.

    The human rights obligations related to climate change have been explored by various organizations, including international courts, governments and United Nations human rights bodies. These aforementioned experts, which include David Boyd, have reached two common conclusions: first, climate change and its impacts threaten a broad range of human rights, and second, as a result, states and private actors have extensive human rights obligations and responsibilities.

    (Source : UN environment)

    Link : https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/human-rights-are-threat-climate-change-can-also-provide-solutions

    Plastic alternatives could make marine pollution even worse, report finds

    September 27, 2019

    (CNN)Compostable alternatives to plastic could worsen marine pollution and have other serious environmental impacts, a report from a committee of UK MPs has warned.

    The world has a plastic problem — millions of tons of plastic enter the oceans every year, polluting our seas, littering our beaches and endangering wildlife.
    In an attempt to curb the devastation wreaked on the oceans and on the environment, many businesses and consumers are turning to alternatives to plastic — like biodegradable or compostable packaging.
    But instead of alleviating the problem of pollution, replacing plastic with other materials can still have a disastrous environmental impact, a report released by the UK Parliament’s Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee warned.
    In fact, such alternatives could even increase pollution by making people complacent about their use and disposal, the report released on Thursday suggested. It cited the environmental group Green Alliance, which had raised concerns about evidence that “people are more likely to discard material described as ‘biodegradable’ in the environment, which would make pollution on land and at sea even worse.”
    The report found that consumers were confused about how to dispose of compostable packaging, which could result in contamination of recycling, as well as littering.
    The committee said that materials were being used as substitutes for plastic “without proper consideration of wider environmental consequences, such as higher carbon emissions.”
    In evidence included in the report, Juliet Phillips, ocean campaigner at the Environmental Investigation Agency stated that “if a biodegradable cup gets into the sea, it could pose just as much of a problem to marine life as a conventional plastic cup.”
    The committee recommended that the UK Government should conduct a review of reusable and refillable packaging systems, and said that the UK government was not putting enough emphasis on reducing plastic food and drink packaging in the first place.
    “We all know that plastic pollution of our rivers and seas is a huge problem. However, replacing plastic with other materials isn’t always the best solution, as all materials have an environmental impact,” said MP Neil Parish, the committee chair.
    “My committee is also concerned that compostable plastics have been introduced without the right infrastructure or consumer understanding about how to dispose of them. Fundamentally, substitution is not the answer, and we need to look at ways to cut down on single use packaging,” he added.
    “All food and drink packaging, whether plastic or another material, has an environmental impact,” the committee found.

    By Amy Woodyatt, CNN

    Updated 1616 GMT (0016 HKT) September 12, 2019

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