World  Federation of Trade Unions (25 April 2013)


The rate of blood that the working class pays in capitalist countries is unacceptable. At a global level, the professional illnesses continue to be the main cause of death that has their origin in the workplace. According to estimates from the International Labour Organization (ILO) out of 2.34 million workplace deaths, 321,000 are due to accidents and 2.2 million are caused by illnesses related to work. This means that every day 6,411 workers die as a consequence of their work.


One has to add, that it is the very ILO that recognizes that these are estimates, and unfortunately the reality is more obstinate and it is manipulated by the interests of the countries who don’t recognize all the damages to health, so we can say without fear of being mistaken that the real numbers are much crueller.


This information responds to the capitalist reality of producing more in the shortest time possible and at the lowest cost. The capitalist restructuring that uses the excuse of the systemic crisis of capital to go on deregulating and taking away rights that have been conquered throughout the history of class struggle emphasizing, even more if possible, the exploitation of the working class. That means, cuts in salaries, deteriorating conditions of employment and work, flexible working hours, lengthening the workday, reducing to its minimum expression the systems of social security and social rights, raising the retirement age, firing workers without any costs, the underground economy, etc.


The effect of these policies of exploitation are suffered on a global scale and lead to very important problems and in reference to workers’ health, social and gender inequalities, restrictions on the capacity to decide by the people, insecurity, higher levels of accidents and professional illnesses and illnesses related to work.


The attack against the maternity protection rights is a serious issue for the health of the humanity in general and in particular of the children of the working class.


Capital has commercialized the working class and it limits itself to understand health from the point of view of absenteeism, of missing work. Which brings with it the transformation of the human being into a tool for the accumulation of capital, as one more resource at the service of the procedures and necessities of production, a tool that is used to exploit to the maximum and finally toss out, they consider the working class as any other resource to make profitable to the maximum their account of results.


But from a class point of view, we have to defend the concept of health from a wider vision, which means the state of physical, psychological and social well-being and not merely as the absence of illness. Passing from an individual concept of health to a collective prism.


What differentiates health is the social class that one belongs to, that is to say that health is intimately related to the modes of production and social organization. Since speaking about Health in the Workplace is to speak about inequalities in society, of injustices in the system.


This form of production and social organization, joined with the conditions of employment and work, have direct repercussions on the health and life of the working class, so that struggling against all of these policies and measures, also means to fight in defence of the health and life of the working class.


For this on April 28th we must advance and go beyond the immediate, not staying in the negotiation of the conditions of our exploitation and conformist trade union strategies that create wishful thinking and try to identify the interests of management with the interests of the working class, because it isn’t true. Because while the basic causes continue such as the exploitation of human beings by other human beings, the precariousness of the conditions of employment and work will continue causing accidents, illnesses and  workplace deaths.


It is for that that from the WFTU we make call for the defence of the workers rights and the implementation of measures to protect their health and safety in the workplace. We acknowledge that a radical change in the correlation of forces at a socio-political level is needed so that a real change will take place in favour of the socialist perspective of our societies. Our health and our lives are at risk!


(Source: Liberation News Service [];  April 27, 2013)

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