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Unions Fend Off ‘Privatised’ Safety Standard

A draft international standard on health and safety at work strongly criticised by unions has failed to secure the necessary two-thirds majority vote at a key committee of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

One European trade union body described the vote as “a battle won by the unions against provisions that would leave workers worse off.”

The success of the ITUC coordinated campaign in opposition to the proposal means the draft will now have to be reviewed and voted on again.

The European Trade Union Institute’s safety unit, HESA, described the vote as “a battle won by the unions against provisions that would leave workers worse off.”

Unions had pressured the national standards bodies voting on the draft to oppose its progress. Flaws – which had been challenged earlier by both unions and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) - included no real provision for workers’ participation and the promotion of a blame-the-worker behavioural safety approach.

HESA notes: “The standard was initially expected to be adopted before the end of 2016. The unions have no plans to let up the pressure because this simply delays, not defeats, the standard.”

Unions warn that ISO standards “are private instruments with no legally binding authority”, but can undermine existing national and international laws and standards.

Source: ITUC


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