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.
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.
Unions call on Canada to stop dumping asbestos in Asia: here.
Britain: Insurance: Asbestos campaigners demand coalition government come clean on secret pact with industry: 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.
Supreme Court judges quashed a Welsh Assembly Bill yesterday that would have forced firms to pay the care costs of workers suffering from asbestos-related illnesses: here.
Deadly Asbestos Still Costing Lives: here.