The Asia-Pacific regional meeting of the International Union of Foodworkers (IUF) demanded a global ban on Endosulfan on Thursday.
Representatives of trade unions of agriculture and plantation workers attending the two-day meeting here urged India to support inclusion of Endosulfan in the Stockholm convention. The unions called for a global ban on Paraquat, a toxic chemical with no antidote, the use of which has been associated with Parkinson's disease.
Addressing a press conference after the meeting, Ma Wei Pin, regional secretary of the IUF-Asia/Pacific, said India was the only country to adopt an anti-worker position by opposing inclusion of Endosulfan at international conventions. India should recognise its role as global steward, being the country with one of the largest population of agriculture and plantation workers.
The regional secretary said employers had a responsibility to clean up the pollution they had caused while the governments should regulate. C. Jayakumar of Thanal, who was also present, said this meant that Plantation Corporation of Kerala (PCK) had a responsibility to clean up environment in Kasaragod district.
Jasper Gross, research officer, IUF-Asia/Pacific told the media that pesticides and chemicals fundamentally had a negative and harmful effect on workers. So, the issue was of rights of the workers for safe working environment. It had been clearly shown that Endosulfan had negative effects.
Dr. Gross said now a quarter of the income of workers went for health care. If pesticides were eliminated, that would, in effect, improve their earnings.
Sarojini Rengam, executive director of Pesticide Action Network?Asia and Pacific, said governments and plantation employers were being unduly influenced by pesticide manufacturers to continue the totally unnecessary practice of using hazardous chemicals.
Christina Olsson from Sweden said her union of Swedish Municipal Workers, Kommunal, was active in the successful banning of Endosulfan in Sweden in 1995.
The core theme of the meeting was Health and Safety of Agriculture and Plantation Workers with special focus on Endosulfan, Paraquat and other hazardous pesticides.