4. Participation of workers and communities

‘Meeting the Challenge’ on Participation of workers and communities:

Workers and community residents potentially affected by hazardous exposures must be encouraged and allowed to participate fully in the sound management of chemicals and wastes in their workplaces and communities. To achieve this goal of inclusion, workers must be able – without interference from employers – to organise in the workplace, join unions, develop democratically elected worker health and safety committees and effective training programmes, and pursue other organising activities to make their workplaces safer.

  • Workers have the right to collectively bargain as a fundamental human right guaranteed by the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human rights (1948) and by the International Labour Organization (ILO) Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work (1998). The brands, with the full participation of workers and their representatives, shall enhance and implement ILO safe work standards and ILO guidelines on occupational safety and health, with special care for vulnerable or precarious workers, including women and immigrants. As well as the right to organise, these protections shall include the right to monitor and enforce effective health and safety protections in the workplace; to refuse or shut down unsafe or unhealthy work; and to be protected from retaliation for exercising their rights (right-to-act and ‘whistle-blower’ protection).

Joint Health and Safety Committees in the workplace are to be encouraged, even if not required by law, with the worker representatives to be fairly elected by their peers. The brands and suppliers shall develop frameworks to promote the active and meaningful participation of all stakeholders in the sound management of chemicals and wastes, including community representatives, non-governmental organisations, managers, workers and trade unions. All hazard communication, education and training shall be conducted in appropriate languages understood by the workers.

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