SATUCC on this day remembers and honours all the frontline workers who have lost their lives during the corona virus pandemic. We once again are re-sounding the message and theme for IWMD 2020 to, Stop the Pandemic: Safety and health at work can save lives. We extend solidarity and sympathy to the workers and entire population around the globe who continue to face a huge health risk of the COVID-19 outbreak which has already infected over 2 million people resulting in more than 140,000 deaths globally.
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Day for Safety and Health at Work on 28th April 2020 comes at a time when million cases of accidents on the job are registered annually, many of which result in extended absences from work. The human cost of this adversity is vast and the economic burden of poor occupational safety and health practices, is estimated at 4 per cent of global Gross Domestic Product each year.
Currently, concern is growing over the continuing rise in COVID-19 infections. The risk of transmission is higher for some workers, in particular those in the front-line, prevention and care workers who treat potentially infected or ill people. There are reports that some of these workers are not being provided with the appropriate information, adequate personal protective equipment and organizational infection control measures to eliminate their risk of infection.
As we commemorate the World Day for Safety and Health at Work and the International Workers Day for 2020 amidst outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial that our focus should be directed towards ensuring that workplaces are safe and healthy to contain the spread of the virus, protecting the health of workers and the larger population.
We therefore stress that during this period of combating COVID-19, all workers should be entitled to safe work environments, including the resources, equipment and protocols to protect them of infectious disease and other biological risks; and to worker compensation benefits if they are infected as a result of their work.
And above all, our call is that in responding to the catastrophic impacts of COVID-19, governments should, in consultation with the most representative employers’ and workers’ organizations, ensure that all measures provided are developed or promoted through gender-inclusive social dialogue mechanisms at both national and international level for sustainable response actions that protect the physical and mental health of all workers and mitigates the economic and labour impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. These should be extended to certain categories of workers, such as nursing personnel, domestic workers, migrant workers, seafarers or fishers, and all those in the informal economy whom we know are very vulnerable in the current context.
One of the most recent international labour standards, the Employment and Decent Work for Peace and Resilience Recommendation, 2017 (No. 205) which was adopted by an overwhelming majority of all constituents, emphasizes that crisis responses need to ensure respect for all human rights and the rule of law, including respect for fundamental principles and rights at work and for international labour standards.
We urge Governments and Social Partners to respect these standards and create a culture of social dialogue and workplace cooperation that is key to building the recovery and preventing a downward spiral in employment and labour conditions during and after the crisis.
Mavis A. Koogotsitse
EXECUTIVE SECRETARY 28 APRIL, 2020