By Morten Brodde, FSC Denmark
During the side meeting on health and safety conditions in the forestry sector the attendees were introduced to “new” ILO-conventions that might affect the FSC-system and many countries as well. The side meeting also showed how FSC plays a vital role in ensuring decent work and new ideas to improve this further.
ILO landmark decision
Dafne Papandrea, Technical Officer at International Labour Organization, opened the side meeting with good news from ILO.
In June 2022 the principle of a safe and healthy working environment was added to the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. The decision means that all ILO Member States commit to respect and promote the fundamental right to a safe and healthy working environment, whether or not they have ratified the relevant Conventions.
“Convention 155 and 187 really constitute an important blueprint for the progress and sustained improvement of the provision of a safe and healthy working environment”, explained Dafne Papandrea.
She dived into the details about the two new fundamental ILO conventions that relate to the principle of a safe and healthy working environment and stressed that “the point is not only ratifying the conventions - the important work is the implementation of them. It’s very important that the countries know what to do to have an effective implementation”. This is where FSC can play an important role.
“Forests are still a very dangerous workplace”
According to data from the International Labour Organization (ILO) and The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) forestry is one of the most dangerous sectors to work in. Coen van der Veer, who also presented at the side meeting, from BWI - Building & Wood Workers' International, agrees with ILO and FAO:
“Forests are still a very dangerous workplace. Poor and unsafe working conditions, obstacles to the right of freedom of association and the effective recognition of the rights to collective bargaining, inadequate occupational safety measures, low wages, low productivity, and lack of access to social protection continue to exist in the sector”, explained Coen.
He presented a few examples of accidents and statistics to underline that it is not only a problem in developing countries but is also relevant in regions such as Europe.
What solutions do we have?
Coen van der Veer pointed towards different solutions to improve worker conditions in the sector, such as improvement in and increased use of machines and technologies; establishment of occupational health committees with employer and workers’ representation; development of safety guidance and code of conducts. Furthermore, he suggested capacity building of employer and workers’ organizations and revision of ILO’s forest-specific tools.
How can FSC contribute?
According to Coen van der Veer there are already many references to occupational health and safety requirements related to ILO in FSC’s International Generic Indicators that FSC Forest Stewardship standards are built on.
Motion 51, proposed by BWI - Building & Wood Workers' International, at the FSC General Assembly 2021-2022 presents a new idea to increase FSC’s contribution to occupational health and safety. The motion proposes to give workers the right to elect their own Occupational Health and safety representative(s). Why is that important? Coen explained it in this way:
“Because we see the dialogue at the workplace as essential and as we agreed in the ILO, such a dialogue can only take place by representatives of the workers and representatives of employees, also at a company level.”
Want to know more?
Find more information about FSC’s work to protect workers rights here: https://by.fsc.org/by-en/for-people/workers