Reducing disaster risk – what about the workers?

18 March 2015
David Boys, PSI Deputy General Secretary
PSI unions from around the world are lobbying and networking at the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, held in Sendai, Japan from 14 to 18 March, 2015. Governments are negotiating final text to guide disaster policy, and have hardly mentioned workers.

Maria Castaneda from SEIU 1199 NE spoke in sessions about measures to prevent epidemics and pandemics and in one about public-private partnerships.  Stefanie Schubert of ver.di grabbed the microphone in sessions on risk factors for disasters and education and knowledge for resilience.  Ben Anyagre from CLOGSAG Ghana took to the floor on economic aspects of disaster risk reduction.

Annie Geron from PSLINK spoke to the PSI Japan Council of trade unions in their meeting to commemorate the fourth anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake (11 March, 2011), where unions from different sectors evaluated their experiences since that massive disaster and to plot future actions and strategies. 

Annie also represented PSI at the ILO WCDRR Seminar on Decent Work, Resilient Livelihoods and Employment Recovery: lessons and challenges from around the world.  She emphasised the need for all, including ILO, to pay particular attention to the challenges faced by first responders and frontline disaster workers. 

PSI Deputy General Secretary David Boys delivered the official statement from the Major Group Workers and Trade Unions to the plenary assembly. 

The key points of the PSI interventions are that governments need to train, equip and respect disaster workers if they expect them to serve and protect in the face of danger.  Decent Work is a key pillar of resilience and sustainable development.

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