By Alan Ritchie, general secretary of the UCATT trade union in Britain:
Scourge of asbestos continues
Sunday 13 September 2009
TUC 2009: Deaths from asbestos plague many traditional working-class communities, especially those where heavy industries were dominant.
While many of those industries have now gone, asbestos deaths and cases of asbestos-related diseases are on the rise.
For most of these diseases, it can take up to 30 years after exposure before symptoms begin to appear.
Until the start of this century, asbestos was still widely used in construction and, as a result, construction workers are now at the greatest risk of dying from asbestos diseases.
Recent research by the London School of Hygiene found that carpenters who were heavily exposed to asbestos before the age of 30 had a 10 per cent chance of dying from the incurable lung cancer mesothelioma.
Asbestos-related diseases devastate lives. And this is why the Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians (UCATT) feels so passionately about pleural plaques – a scarring of the lungs caused by heavy and prolonged exposure to asbestos. Victims suffer some physical symptoms but also severe mental trauma.
James Hardie: the company that tried to get away with murder: here.
Adverts urging tradesmen to take precautions over asbestos have been pulled from the radio after the intervention of an industry pressure group: here.
Australia has one of the highest rates of asbestos-related disease in the world. Asbestos kills and goes on killing for generations. The Australian Council of Trade Unions estimates that by 2020, 30,000 to 40,000 people in Australia will have contracted an asbestos-related cancer: here.
Britain: Construction union UCATT leader Alan Ritchie has accused Justice Secretary Jack Straw of being “disingenuous” over the government’s refusal to overturn the Law Lords’ decision on compensation for victims of pleural plaques: here.
Construction union UCATT has condemned ministers for once again finding billions of pounds to bail out the banks but claiming poverty when asked to cough up a few million to compensate pleural plaques victims: here.
A new generation of workers is at risk of developing deadly asbestos-related diseases, safety campaigners have warned: here.
Asbestos sufferers denied justice by a dodgy dossier: here.
Union leaders accused the government on Thursday of “abandoning” thousands of workers suffering from an asbestos-related disease, after ministers backed a legal ruling blocking them from claiming compensation: here.
Public-sector union Unison has revealed that nearly £2 million has been won in the last year alone for members who have suffered from deadly asbestos-related diseases: here.
The widow of a Bradford teacher who died from mesothelioma after working in asbestos-contaminated schools has called on the government to act to save other families suffering the same fate: here.
Unions call on Canada to stop dumping asbestos in Asia: here.
Canada’s Conservative government has prevented asbestos—a notorious carcinogen responsible for tens of thousands of deaths each year—from being listed as a hazardous substance under the United Nations’ Rotterdam Convention: here.
Britain: Supermarket giant Marks & Spencer and three contractors face hefty fines tomorrow for failing to protect customers, staff and workers from asbestos: here.
Thalydomide apology and cash five decades on: here.