AIDS is concentrated among adults of working age: of the 40 million people estimated to be infected today, over 80% are adults in their productive prime (15-49 years). Workers are losing their health, their income, their rights and their lives. This has repercussions for enterprise productivity, the provision of essential services and socio-economic security.
“Universal access to prevention, treatment, care and support is a goal we not only support but demand as a right. Trade unions call on national authorities and the international community to recognize that access will never be universal without the involvement of the workplace as a key point of delivery, and of unions and employers as key partners. Also essential for the achievement of universal access is the respect of rights and the prohibition of stigma and discrimination – this is the core demand of unions in the face of HIV/AIDS. Keep the promise – deliver universal access in and through the world of work.” --Alan Leather, Chair of Global Unions AIDS Programme Steering Committee
Increasingly, labour movements around the world are using their resources to advocate for workplace security and rights for people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS. Their campaigns are based on the premise that employers have a duty to Keep the Promise and commit resources to move towards Universal Access to Treatment in the Workplace by 2010.
The organisations are promoting awareness that, in addition to legislative worker protection, programmes to care for their affected families and communities are necessary
At the international level, Global Unions are in the forefront of this year’s campaign. The grouping includes the International Trade Union Confederation, as well as global sector unions in such industries as transport, metalwork, textiles and education. The International Organisation of Employers is also calling on its members to “give the issue the highest priority…to work to generate and maintain the momentum necessary for successful interventions.”
The International Labour Organisation, based in Geneva, is also committing its resources to the campaign.
All are seeking to unite workers around the global on World AIDS Day to make a difference to workers affected by HIV/AIDS. In their efforts to call employers to be accountable, they are highlighting the reluctance of employers to hire workers whose HIV positive status is known, their refusal to provide access to treatment and grant compassionate leave, and the practice of dismissing workers who disclose their positive status.
Along with all the adverse affects of globalisation, such practices are leading to the increase in the ‘casualisation’ of labour, adding to job insecurity.
To read more please see Labour in Action on WAD