Asbestos Center Stage on Workers' Memorial Day 

by Laurie Kazan-Allen



April 28 is commemorated in scores of countries as International Workers' Memorial Day (IWMD). Due to the escalating human cost of the global asbestos trade, in recent years asbestos has been a focal point for activities on this day. This year, asbestos will be on the agenda of events being held by victims' groups, trade unions, community organizations and campaigning bodies in Asia and Europe.

The Manila-based Institute for Occupational Health and Safety Development (IOHSAD) will be marking April 28, 2011 with the launch of a competition – The Asbestos Street Fighters Street Art Competition – to raise awareness of the asbestos hazard in the Philippines. The contest's organizers hope to capitalize on the popularity of street art and the internet to attract the participation not only of graffiti artists but of online users who can take part by casting their votes for their favourite entries. Participants will be able to upload submissions from April 28 until June 26, 2011. ( Competition winners will receive cash prizes.


This dynamic initiative is part of the IOHSAD's ongoing campaign to ban the use of Asbestos in the Philippines and worldwide. The 2011 competition, with its theme of “Asbestos Kills People,” builds on the work of a 2010 IOHSAD project which centered on the creation of a 3-storey high, 50-foot wide graffiti mural in Cebu City which called for an asbestos ban.

In Italy, a country which banned asbestos nearly 20 years ago, people continue to die from hazardous exposures. The Italian town of Cassale Monferrato, the location of the country's largest asbestos-cement factory, has experienced an epidemic of disease and death amongst former workers, family members and townspeople. Two former asbestos executives are on trial in Turin for their role in the negligent operations of the companies which owned this plant.


To mark IWMD 2011, a series of events is being held in Casale Monferrato on April 28 & 29 including an international conference entitled A World Without Asbestos, a focus group, a public meeting and the premiere of a documentary entitled Dust, the Great Asbestos Trial. These events are being organized by AFEVA, the local asbestos victims' group, in conjunction with trade unions, civil society associations and the City of Casale Monferrato.

April 27, 2011



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