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Time to act on decent work for all e-waste workers

The e-waste industry is the largest growing waste stream. It is hazardous, complex and expensive to treat in an environmentally sound manner, and there is still a general lack of legislation or enforcement surrounding it in many countries. The majority of work with e-waste in developing countries takes place in the informal economy. Under these circumstances, issues of e-waste workers such as the violation of fundamental workers’ rights, child labour, precarious working conditions and neglect of health and safety have been reported, especially from developing countries. Representatives of governments, employers and workers from around the world gathered at the ILO in Geneva in April to discuss current and emerging issues related to the promotion of decent work in the management of e-waste, IndustriALL reports.

The supply chains that feed the ICT electrical and electronics industry are getting longer and more complex as technology pervades every area of our lives, and it will continue to boost the e-waste industry. All stakeholders of the supply chain have a responsibility to provide, and workers have a right to expect, safe, healthy, clean and sustainable jobs. Workers handling e-waste have no voice, no bargaining power and they are breaking hazardous materials by their hands. Moreover, these workers are unaware of the many risks associated with handling e-waste.

The Global Dialogue Forum on Decent Work in the Management of Electrical and Electronic Waste (e-waste) took place from 9 to 11 April 2019. The purpose of the Forum is to discuss current and emerging issues related to the promotion of decent work in the management of e-waste, with the aim of adopting points of consensus, including recommendations for future action by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and its members. IndustriALL Global Union, under the auspices of the International Trade Union Confederation, coordinated the trade union experts’ participation, drawn from the following six countries; Denmark, India, Japan, Russia, Sweden, and UK.

Photo: IndustriALL Global Union


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