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News Media Releases CHOGM leaders called on to pressure Canada to stop deadly asbestos trade
CHOGM leaders called on to pressure Canada to stop deadly asbestos trade
Monday, 10 October 2011 11:33

 World trade unions are calling on the leaders of the Commonwealth nations to put pressure on Canada to put an end to its deadly trade in asbestos.

Amid protests from health professionals, unions, lobbyists and the public, the Canadian government, earlier this year, underwrote a $57 million loan to Indian investors to open up one of the world’s biggest asbestos mines.

UnionsWA secretary Simone McGurk said the leaders of the Commonwealth nations should use CHOGM as an opportunity tell Canada to stop mining asbestos now.

“There is no safe asbestos. Even one fibre is dangerous,” Ms McGurk said.

“The asbestos from the Jeffery Mine will be exported to nations where stringent rules are less likely to be enforced. Canada is imposing the death sentence on the people of those countries.”

UnionsWA and the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia have requested a meeting with the Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, while he is in Perth for CHOGM, to discuss the issue.

“Australian workers and their representatives are all too familiar with the deadly effects of asbestos,” Ms McGurk said.

“We have the highest level of asbestos related diseases in the world despite a total ban on the import, use and sale of products containing asbestos.

“It will take generations before Australia will see an end to the legacy of this deadly fibre.”

The Canadian government has been behind a global push to keep the asbestos trade alive. The United Nations confirmed earlier this year that Canada blocked listing of chrysotile asbestos, the type mined at Jeffrey, as a hazardous chemical. (Rotterdam Convention)

In 1999, the Canadian Government failed when it went to the World Trade Organisation to challenge the ban on asbestos in France.
“It’s beyond reason that any government would want to expose not only its own citizens, but people with less rights, to a deadly trade,” said Ms McGurk.

“It’s not only the miners whose lives are put at risk but that of their families, their communities, and anyone who is exposed the product at any stage.
“The leaders of the Commonwealth nations cannot sit back and let one of its members play God with the lives of so many.”

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