You are here

asbestos

Common Good a Big Subject in Oakland Schools Strike

By Daria Marcantonio Kieffer and Micaela Morse - Labor Notes, May 19, 2023

The 3,000 teachers and support staff of the Oakland Education Association walked out May 4, shutting down all 85 elementary, middle, and high schools.

Community support was immediate and widespread—parents were already familiar with the cuts the district had inflicted or proposed. Many donated food and joined our picket lines to walk, dance, and chant in solidarity.

Eighty-eight percent of teachers had voted to strike, after it became clear that our demands were not being taken seriously at the negotiating table.

The Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) had stonewalled us—delaying meetings, failing to show up, and presenting vague proposals that demonstrated a limited understanding of what’s really needed day to day in schools.

“Teachers feel disrespected and fed up.” said Sarah Wheels, a fifth-grade teacher and union site representative. “We’ve been bargaining for six months, but our superintendent only came for the first time to meet and bargain with us last Sunday.”

The Road to Ruin? - Electric vehicles and workers’ rights abuses at DR Congo’s industrial cobalt mines

By staff - Rights and Accountability in Development (RAID) and the Centre d’Aide Juridico-Judiciaire (CAJJ), November 2021

Cobalt is everywhere. It is a silvery-blue mineral used in the rechargeable batteries that power our mobile phones, laptops and tablets, and in larger quantities, the electric vehicles that will soon dominate our roads. It is a strategic mineral in the plan to decarbonise and move away from fossil fuels towards renewable energy. Accelerating this switch is one of the priorities to tackle the climate crisis and industry experts forecast that electric vehicle sales will skyrocket in the next 10 years. This will require a dramatic increase in cobalt production.

The booming demand for cobalt has a dark side, however. The Democratic Republic of Congo, one of Africa’s poorest nations, holds the lion’s share of the world’s cobalt reserves. In 2020, 70% of the world’s cobalt was extracted from within its borders with tens of thousands of workers labouring in large-scale industrial mines to dig up the ore. Multinational mining companies that own many of Congo’s mines, eager to demonstrate their “green” and “responsible” credentials, say they produce “clean” and “sustainable” cobalt, free from human rights abuses, and that their operations contribute to good jobs and economic opportunities.

This report, based on extensive research over two years, paints a very different picture. It shows dire conditions for many Congolese workers in the industrial mines, often characterised by widespread exploitation and labour rights abuses. Many workers do not earn a “living wage” – the minimum remuneration to afford a decent standard of living – have little or no health provision, and far too often are subjected to excessive working hours, unsafe working conditions, degrading treatment, discrimination and racism.

In recent years attention has mainly focused on Congo’s artisanal mining sector, partly because of the risks of child labour it creates, whereas the conditions for workers in the large-scale industrial mines have gone largely unnoticed. This report examines workers’ rights at Congo’s industrial mines where the large majority of cobalt is coming from, producing some 80% of the cobalt exported from the country (in contrast to the 20% produced in artisanal mines).

The findings presented in this report are based on detailed research over 28 months by UK-based corporate watchdog Rights and Accountability in Development (RAID) and the Centre d’Aide Juridico- Judiciaire (CAJJ), a Congolese legal aid centre specialised in labour rights. The research team carried out extensive field research in and around Kolwezi, a mining town where many of Congo’s cobalt and copper mines are located. It is informed by 130 interviews of workers and former workers at five mining companies, as well as interviews with subcontractors, union representatives, lawyers, Congolese local authorities, medical staff and industry experts.

Read the text (PDF).

Hospitals in Australia riddled with asbestos and pose serious health risk, union officials say

By Matt Peacock - ABC News, November 3, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Unions and lawyers are warning that hospitals across the country are riddled with asbestos.

Tanya Segelov represented late asbestos campaigner Bernie Banton and is still acting for sufferers of dust diseases.

"Hospitals throughout Australia were full of asbestos and many remain full of asbestos," Ms Segelov told the ABC's 7.30 program.

"All of the steam pipes are wrapped in asbestos, in the ceiling cavities there is asbestos sprayed.

"There are asbestos fire doors, it is in the boiler houses, it is in the laundry.

"Wherever there was heat, wherever there is steam, there was asbestos."

Annabel Crouch worked as a speech therapist at Sydney's Royal North Shore Hospital for three decades.

Her doctor recently told her she has the fatal and incurable asbestos cancer mesothelioma.

It is believed she contracted it from asbestos-lined service tunnels under the hospital.

"We went up and down the tunnel 10 times a day," Ms Crouch said.

"And there would always be people working on it, the pipes, there'd be plumbers doing things.

"No-one thought there would be asbestos or any danger.

"I mean, you do expect your work place is a fairly safe environment, so it's a bit of a shock when you find out that a hospital is full of asbestos.

"But of course in the last while I have learnt that many buildings are full of asbestos."

Asbestos, the Dust of Death

Chapter 9 of Yardbird Blues - by Arthur Miller

The Fine Print I:

Disclaimer: The views expressed on this site are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) unless otherwise indicated and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s, nor should it be assumed that any of these authors automatically support the IWW or endorse any of its positions.

Further: the inclusion of a link on our site (other than the link to the main IWW site) does not imply endorsement by or an alliance with the IWW. These sites have been chosen by our members due to their perceived relevance to the IWW EUC and are included here for informational purposes only. If you have any suggestions or comments on any of the links included (or not included) above, please contact us.

The Fine Print II:

Fair Use Notice: The material on this site is provided for educational and informational purposes. It may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. It is being made available in an effort to advance the understanding of scientific, environmental, economic, social justice and human rights issues etc.

It is believed that this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have an interest in using the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. The information on this site does not constitute legal or technical advice.