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Regional News of Friday, 28 April 2006

Source: GNA

TUC Commemorates International Workers Memorial Day

Accra, April 28, GNA - The Trade Unions Congress (TUC) on Friday0 called on the Government to institute measures to insulate workers against occupational hazards that affected their health. Mr Kwesi Adu-Amankwah, Secretary General of the TUC, who made this known in Accra, said cancer of the lungs for instance afflicted workers, who were exposed to asbestos.

The Secretary-General, who was speaking at a function to commemorate International Workers Memorial Day, said: symptoms of asbestosis included weight loss, abdominal pains, blood clotting, night sweats, fever, pain in the chest due to an accumulation of fluid in the membrane that surrounded the lungs and the lines of chest cavity. He said victims of asbestos showed no signs of illness for a long time, saying, it could take between 10 years to 40 years before the effect was manifested.

Mr Adu-Amankwah called on the Government to ban the production and the use of asbestos.

The Day was initiated by the Canadian Labour Congress 22 years ago to commemorate workers killed or injured on the job. This year's commemoration is on the theme: "Safety and Health at Work and Ban Asbestos."

Members of the Building and Wood Workers Union, who converged at the TUC Hall to commemorate the Day lit candles, sang dirges and prayed for the departed workers.

Mr Pius Quainoo, Coordinating Committee Secretary of the International Federation of Building and Wood Workers (IFBWW), advocated for sanction against employers, who wilfully failed to comply with health and safety standards leading to work place diseases, injuries and deaths.

"We must start to count the many strong and able-bodied, who die or continue to suffer from industrial disease as a result of managerial indifference," he said.

He observed that structures and mechanisms to take occupational health safety issues to higher levels were still absent even though the new Labour Act 2003 (Act 651) was in force.

He said non-compliance with regulations in the growing informal sector was indicative that having the best legislation did not guarantee that carnage at work places could stop. He called on the Government and employers to integrate sustainable development into Occupational Health and Safety for workers. Mr Quainoo said the Government should make sure that agencies created to enforce standards were well resourced and motivated to do quality work.