Statement by the GCTU
Moscow, 22 April 2009

On the eve of the World Day for Safety and Health at Work and the International Commemoration Day for Dead and Injured Workers observed annually by the world community on the 28th of April, the General Confederation of Trade Unions, on behalf of its 50 million union members in the CIS countries, pays a tribute of sorrow to the memory of all who died from occupational accidents, and expresses a deep sympathy with with workers injured at work.

The growing number of occupational injuries that often cause death of able-bodied people is of great concern to the GCTU and its affiliates. According to latest published official statistics, in 2007 occupational accidents took a toll of over 92 thousand workers, of whom more than 4.8 thousand, or five per cent of the affected, died. One cannot tolerate the fact that the rates of heavy work-related injuries do not fall, the number of occupational accidents remains high, and almost a quarter of workplaces in CIS states do not meet the safety and health requirements and standards.

The Commonwealth trade unions share and support fully the motto of this years World Day for Safety and Health at Work as proclaimed by the ILO Health and life at work: a fundamental human right. Ensuring the right of workers to safe and healthy work conditions is a key component of the ILOs Decent Work Agenda that has won wide support in the trade union movement of the CIS countries.

The world economic crisis that has hit all countries, including the CIS states, has led to a considerable infringement of workers rights and interests in the sphere of labour, including the right to safe working conditions, health protection, etc.

Speaking for its member-organisations, the General Confederation of Trade Unions states that, even in the context of a crisis, the demand for an environment excluding occupational injuries and diseases at every workplace remains a major strategic goal in the sphere of health and safety for Commonwealth trade unions. Exercising their legitimate rights, trade unions in the CIS states will firmly and consistently work for the attainment of this strategic goal.