Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union


Canada asbestos ban a big step for the Rotterdam Convention

The AMWU has congratulated Canadian unions and activists on winning their decades of persistence to ban the importation and use of asbestos.

AMWU National Secretary, Paul Bastian, said this was a pivotal moment in the global movement to ban asbestos.

“Asbestos use is still rampant in the developing world including Indonesia, India, and China. It continues to be a global problem and Canada’s decision is a strong signal to global community,” he said.

“Until 2003, Australia imported Canadian asbestos for use in friction part manufacture, so we have a particular interest in seeing Canada implement its own ban.”

“In particular, I’d like to congratulate our sister union, Unifor, who have been taking up this struggle for decades. As far back as 2003, Unifor had been calling for this importation ban. This announcement is a culmination of the work of their officials and rank-and-file activists,” said Mr Bastian.

In 2017, the global community will meet under the auspices of the United Nations to consider updating the Rotterdam Convention to impose regulations on the global asbestos trade. Thus far, these moves have been hindered by the refusal of some big nations to agree.

“This move by Canada is an enormous boost to our efforts to get countries to agree to include chrysotile in the Rotterdam convention,” said Mr Bastian.

“The responsibility falls on all of us to ensure people are not exposed to asbestos in developing nations.”

Australian consumers were shocked to learn earlier this year that asbestos continues to be found in imported consumer and building products. Investigations in 2016 uncovered asbestos in consumer products including children’s crayons.

“A global ban on asbestos is in our national interest. We can’t afford to ban asbestos here only to have it come through via the back door.”


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