Agenda Item A: Occupational Safety And Health; Advancing Physical And Psychological Conditions Of The Work Environments
Working in a safe and healthy environment is among the fundamental human rights of all working people in the World. In this regard, occupational safety and health issues, protection strategies as well as national and international events are of vital importance for employees, enterprises, societies and economies.
Occupational Safety and Health is directly related to human life. Thus, it is highly important to prevent work-related hazards and creating safe workplace for the international community. In a working place where comprehensive protective and preventive strategies have been developed, number of work related accident and occupational diseases will decreases. Therefore, aim should be minimize unintended hazards. These workplace hazards can be named as followings; Physical and mechanical hazards, Biological and chemical hazards, Psychosocial hazards. Especially workers who work on the fields of construction, agriculture, service and Mining and oil & gas extraction sector, have much tendencies to encounter with these hazards
International Organizations such as InternatÄ±onal Labour Organization, World Health Organizations and United Nations etc. have been working to advance the conditions of work environments by forcing conventions and acts. Since it’s establishment ILO has attached specific importance to the issue of OHS and regarded it as one of the building stones in achieving social justice. The ILO has so far adopted a series of conventions and recommendations in order to eliminate risks and hazards in working life and in this context, to protect both workers and enterprises. The most relevant ILO Conventions regarding OHS are No.155 on OSH, No.161 on Occupational Health Services, No 81 on Labour Inspection and No.187 on the Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health. The ILO Constitution sets principles that workers should be protected from sickness, disease and injury arising from their employment. Yet for millions of workers, the reality is very different. Some two million people die every year from work-related accidents and diseases. An estimated 160 million people suffer from work-related diseases, and there are an estimated 270 million fatal and non-fatal work-related accidents per year. According to latest ILO data every year 337 million people fall victim to work accidents.
El Salvador’s economy was predominantly agricultural until industry rapidly expanded in the 1960s and ’70s. Despite its traditional concentration on agriculture, after that era state industrialized quickly and although it’s the smallest country in Central America geographically, El Salvador had the third largest economy in the region. This sudden change caught state unbalanced about workers’ protection so that Occupational Health and Safety measurements hadn’t been taken so far properly. Because of the fact that a large part of the population was engaged in hazardous activities such as agriculture, deaths and injuries took a particularly heavy toll.
With Mauricio Funesgovernment, El Salvador made some legislative arrangements in order to meet the needs of labour market. Existence and persistence of the balance in working life and well beings of workers at work depend on supporting decent work and increasing registered employment. The Ministry of Labour and Social Prevision in cooperation with related ministries and representatives of workforce played the key role in improving occupational health and safety in the country.
To determine the prevalence and nature of occupational injuries among workers in Latin America, as well as to identify factors that predict these work-related injuries, El Salvador participated in a joint program with other Latin America states. With this concept, II Hemispheric Workshop on Occupational Health and Safety was initiated by the Ministry of Labor and Social Prevision of El Salvador. It was co-organized by the Department of Social Development and Employment of the Organization of American States (OAS), the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), the International Labor Organization (ILO) and FUNDACERSSO, and it was funded by the Labor Program of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. Yet, children workers are still the main problem on the field of OHS. Between 5,000 and 30,000 Salvadoran children, some as young as 8 years old, are working in El Salvador’s sugarcane plantations where injuries, particularly severe cuts and gashes, are common, according to theHuman Rights Watch (HRW) report even tough Salvadoran law indicated that 18 is the minimum age for dangerous work.
For a long time ensuring widespread awareness on OSH has been the main objective for El Salvador. El Salvadoran government puts a great efforts to decrease work-related injuries and causalities. Programs, to achieve this idea, have been developed very recently and some of them are still ongoing. According to us, advancing multidimensional conditions of workplaces would be accelerated by way of supporting efforts on these issues at national and international platforms by sharing practices via international programs and events.
Agenda Item B: Elimination of Discrimination in Workplaces
Discrimination is a negative judgment toward a person’s gender, age, religion, race, nationality, sexual preference or height and is a huge problem that can be found worldwide inside and outside of the workplace. On account of the fact that a large number of governments passes laws that make discrimination illegal, employers must follow these laws when hiring employees and employees must act in these law’s framework. But even with rules in place, many people still fall victim to discrimination at workplaces.
There have been numerous legislative movements to ban discrimination’s every shape. One of the most important act was Civil Rights of Act 1964 which outlawed and prohibited discrimination by covered employers on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national. International organizations such as International Labour Organization and United Nations have been setting their agendas by considering discrimination, especially discrimination in workplaces. While everyone is a potential victim; women, LGBT’s, ethnic minorities, migrants, persons with disabilities constitute majority of discrimination victims in workplaces. As a supporter of this argument, Human Development Report in 2011 revealed that 52 percent of non-Hispanic whites expressed anti Hispanic attitudes towards their co-workers in U.S.
Gaining independence from Spain in 1821, El Salvador’s more recent history has been marked by a bitter civil war in the 1980s which left more than 75,000 people dead and 500,000 displaced. The country was then hit by a series of natural disasters in the 1990s and 2000s, which left more than a million people homeless. These occurrences made the state impotent and unstabilized. Thus, Salvadoran authorities have not adopted the findings and recommendations made by UN and ILO bodies in the field of discrimination in workplaces between those years properly. But after 2000 to present, El Salvador has shown an incredible improvement to ban all forms of discrimination, especially during presidency of Carlos Mauricio Funes Cartagena.
As a first step on this area on August 19, 1981, El Salvador ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which defines discrimination and establishes an agenda for national action to end such discrimination. In 1996, prior to the Committee’s review of El Salvador’s compliance with CEDAW, the government of El Salvador established the Institute for Development of Women. The Institute seeks to ensure that action plans created by the government to protect women are implemented effectively. Yet these amendments were not enough. Althoughwomen inEl Salvadorenjoy equal protection under the law, they were often at a disadvantage relative to their male counterpart according to Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in 2001.Also as indicated in Human Development Report the femalelabor force participation ratein El Salvador was 45.9 percent, compared to the male rate of 76.7 percent.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT)persons inEl Salvadorhad been facing legal challenges in workplaces. No national law does exist to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, although the law prohibited discrimination on the basis of HIV/AIDS status, in practice, discrimination was widespread. All in all, there was discrimination against women, persons with disabilities, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons, and indigenous people at workplace and there weren’t adequate provisions or codes to eliminate discrimination.
When calendars showed 2001, El Salvadoran President and his government started to take steps to foresee any legal or constitutional challenges to resolve the problems highlighted in a UN general assemblyreporton discrimination at workplaces. Also ensured those rights would strengthen the constitution of El Salvador. The Secretariat for Social Inclusion, created in June 2009 by President Funes, who named the first lady Vanda Pignato as secretary, made efforts to overcome traditional bias in all these areas. The constitution provided for the right of workers. In 2009 the government amended the constitution to grant legal status to public worker unions. The law established sentences of one to three years in prison to person who discriminate in the workplace. There were no government programs dedicated to combating discrimination but now The Vida Digna (Life with Dignity) program has been adopted to El Salvador to fight against discrimination based on HIV. Also on the basis of sexual orientation, in practice discrimination was widespread, especially against transgender persons. In January the new administration approved the legal registration application filed in August 2009 by the gay rights NGO Entre Amigos. This is the first NGO focused on sexual minorities registered by the government whose primary declared work was other than the prevention of HIV/AIDS.
Although it’s considerable headway, El Salvador will not be satisfied with this arrangements and for sure, sanctions and regulations will improve gradually to reach international criteria.
As clearly seen discrimination in workplaces is widespread in many countries. In our opinion, such systematic human rights violations can only be deterred by the humanly will of governments, employers and employees in taking resolute action against people who discriminate at all levels.