The Solidarity Center helps trade unions lead the fight for worker safety & health—a fight for workers' lives. These programs work to improve workplace safety conditions, and to strengthen unions' role in responding to community health issues such as the global HIV/AIDS epidemic.
|The Solidarity Center has conducted HIV/AIDS prevention sessions for tens of thousands of South Africa workers. Photo: Gillian Cassell
Every year on April 28, workers and worker rights activists around the world observe Workers Memorial Day—a global day of remembrance for workers who died or were injured on the job. The race for economic competitiveness and globalization has de-prioritized basic human rights, and cheated workers of the fundamental protections they deserve. Every year more than 250 million workers suffer from work-related accidents. Workplace hazards and exposures cause another 160 million workers to fall ill annually. More than 1.2 million workers die annually as a result of occupational accidents and diseases.Workers around the world in every economic sector face serious risks. Increased international awareness is necessary to prevent avoidable workplace deaths and injuries, and to combat epidemics that threaten workers' families and communities.
In many parts of the world, the HIV/AIDS epidemic poses the most serious threat to worker heatlh. All over the world, workers in the prime of their lives are dying of a preventable and treatable disease. At least 25 million people of working age are infected with HIV. HIV/AIDS strikes workers’ lives through their ability to secure a job, protect their rights, and earn a livable wage. It kills young and middle-aged workers who support families and communities, fuel economic progress, care for and teach children, and work to build a better future for their country. The HIV/AIDS epidemic is reversing decades of development and threatening economic and social equality worldwide. Because HIV/AIDS is a key worker issue, it is a key union issue.
To the HIV/AIDS global response, unions contribute experience, skills, and advocacy needed in workplaces, communities, and nations. Unique in civil society, unions have long-established structures and represent unrivaled numbers of workers in all economic sectors. The Solidarity Center advocates, educates, and fights to end HIV/AIDS through innovative, worker-focused programs. The Solidarity Center works with trade unions to raise awareness about the right of all workers to basic safety and health protections, and to assist workers in improving their workplace conditions to meet international standards.
Reaching Workers on the Job Key to HIV/AIDS Prevention.
November 30, 2012—Roseline Mosibudi Nkgapele, a member of the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA), has made it her mission to educate workers about HIV/AIDS.
AutoZone HIV Initiative Tests and Educates Over 350 Staff
. November 8, 2012—Solidarity Center's HIV/AIDS train-the-trainer program recently reached more than 350 workers at the wholesale and retail company AutoZone.
Fighting for Agate-Processing Workers in India
. August 8, 2012—Agate-processing workers have achieved their first major legislative success in India’s Gujarat state—official recognition that their jobs can kill them.
AIDS: Workplace Partnerships Have Impact.
July 24, 2012—Globally, through the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the International Trade Union Confederation, unions in the global south, particularly in southern Africa, have produced a body of successful workplace interventions around HIV/AIDS.
Unions Speak up at AIDS 2012.
July 20, 2012—In conjunction with the 2012 International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012), the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and the AFL-CIO hosted a one-day forum
in Washington, DC on July 21 on unions’ role in combating HIV/AIDS with a focus on raising awareness among young workers.
Report Aims to Expose Extent of Workplace Death and Disease for Asian Workers.
April 26, 2012—The problem of workplace health and safety and its victims remains invisible in Asia, according to a new report released today by the Asia Monitor Resource Centre, a Solidarity Center partner.
Lack of Respect for Worker Safety Cost Colombian Miner His Life
. May 5, 2009—In a unified response to safety shortfalls that killed an inexperienced and untrained contract worker at Colombia’s second largest coal mine, 9,000 union miners and contract workers staged a four-day strike late in March that shut down production.
U.S. Steelworkers, Nigerian Oil Workers: Partners in Health and Safety
. January 3, 2009—In April 2008, a group of trainers from the United Steelworkers union (USW) traveled to Nigeria to conduct a week of occupational health and safety workshops for oil workers.
Unions Demand Investigation of Bangladesh Garment Factory Disasters
. Over a two-week period, 86 garment workers in Bangladesh died in four separate workplace disasters, and hundreds more were injured. Union and human rights activists called Bangladesh’s garment and textile factories “death traps.”
Health and Safety Organizing: A Worker's Guide
(2010). Unions make work safe. This 20-page manual contains information for union activists on how to form a union health and safety committee, map a workplace, conduct a worker survey, and document occupational injuries, accidents, and illnesses. It clearly delineates the employer's role in providing a safe and healthy workplace.