Last week a trade union delegation made some progress towards ending Russia's trade in asbestos at the meeting of the Rotterdam Convention.

Unbelievable Asbestos progress

Many were shocked to hear that Russia has been lobbying countries party to the Rotterdam Convention to stop the listing of chrysotile asbestos to the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) list of hazardous substances. Chrysotile Asbestos like all six forms of asbestos is carcinogenic and all other forms are listed. The listing with the Rotterdam Convention does not ban the trade in chrysotile asbestos but requires the exporters to establish a protocol to manage the hazards. ie consumer beware!

Due to the opposition and lobbying by Russia and several importing countries - India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe – The conference was unable in 2013 to reach consensus.

Since 2013 Union Aid Abroad has been working with the Vietnamese Government to inform them about the hazards of asbestos and has been successful in getting the Vietnamese government to change their position on the Rotterdam Convention and are reviewing all their asbestos policies.

A union delegation attended Europe for the 2015 negotiations and significantly was able to change the voting position of India who currently stands as one of the largest by volume consumers of asbestos in the world. Unfortunately the recent sign ups from the former Soviet bloc countries vetoed the listing of Chrysotile Asbestos but the progress with regional neighbours is a leap forward to a global ban.

For details of some of the Union Aid Abroad Activities being conducted to assist workers in our region achieve dignity and safety at work visit Union Aid Abroad.

Unions NSW are still aiming to get 10000 signatures to get the Foreign Affairs Minister to implement a policy of only signing up to free trade deals with countries that have banned asbestos. With heavy marketing and export of asbestos to our northern neighbours, asbestos is being imported into Australia through our porous customs service including car brake liners, inside imported trains, in imported boats and construction materials. Call on Julie Bishop to make the trade an asbestos free safe trade.

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