United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Major Group: Workers & Trade

Workers and Trade Unions Statement
Intergovernmental Preparatory Meeting - CSD19 - Session on Chemicals
Statement on behalf of Workers and Trade Unions
Gracias senor presidente.
Protecting workers and the environment from exposure to hazardous
substances is fundamental for achieving sustainable development. We
very much support the SG report when it says that workplace prevention
is essential in this regard.
Nonetheless, Chair, we consider workers' protection needs to start from
the development of chemical substances. As the women representative
expressed, the precautionary principle, and the no data, no market
principle play a fundamental role and need to be reflected in the
document as guiding principles for policies emerging from this CSD
cycle.
Chair, and answering your question regarding the means by which we
could strengthen the governance of chemicals at the national level,
allow me to highlight the importance of Decent Work as a precondition
for avoiding fatalities, injuries and diseases related to chemical
hazards. Decent working conditions, the right to information, to
receive training, and to be protected when denouncing mismanagement of
chemical substances complement chemicals regulations giving workers' a
chance to help in their compliance at the national and workplace level.
Chair, it is important to strengthen the many instruments related to
Chemicals, including ILO Convention 170. However, Chair, we all know we
are far from achieving Johannesburg goals. As the EU delegate
mentioned, a broader chemical legal instrument needs to be explored.
Finally, chair, Public participation in the debate on chemicals is key
in raising the profile of this issue. An informed civil society, with
empowered and informed trade unions, can put chemicals very high in the
agenda, as government-union cooperation has shown for example in
Uruguay, thanks to the QSP support. To conclude, chair, an informed
citizen, both as a worker and as a consumer, and the right regulation
and its enforcement, are two complementary dimensions for a democratic
and sound management of chemicals.
If you allow me, Chair, I would like to ask a question to the panel.
ICCA representative raised the importance of working through the supply
chain to ensure sound use of chemicals. We fully agree on this. We
would like to know from both the Convention and ICCA representatives if
they have explored means for better tracking chemical substances in
products, as for us this remains a major gap in ensuring sound
management of chemicals.
Thank you very much for your time and attention,
Ms Anabella Rosemberg