ETUC welcomes the planned signing of EU-China agreement on health and safety at work and calls for independent trade union action to ensure its application

Brussels, 24/11/2008

For John Monks, ‘Ensuring proper health and safety at work is one of the great challenges facing the People’s Republic of China (PRC), notably in the mining sector. We are pleased that the EU will be helping to meet it as part of expanding cooperation in employment and social affairs. The MoU should contribute to adherence to international standards on decent work which, of course, include International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions on freedom of association and collective bargaining. I look forward to their ratification and implementation in the PRC. These are issues that should be included in the ongoing discussions about a partnership and cooperation agreement that will be on the agenda of the EU-China Summit next week * ’.

ETUC has welcomed ongoing contacts and training visits by groups of coal industry personnel from Chinese mines covering European health and safety systems used in the EU’s coal industries. It hopes that following the signing of an MoU a large scale multi-annual programme between the Chinese State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS) and the EU will be organised dealing in particular with risk assessment – the core approach established by the key framework directive on health and safety at work adopted in 1989. In light of this, it is expected that the high risk industries in China, including mining, construction, chemicals, transport and fireworks will be the first to become involved. Discussions have also been taking place with the ILO to establish training for worker safety representatives in particular.

* Note:

On 26 October 2008, the Chinese authorities informed the European Union of their decision to request the postponement of the 11th EU-China Summit, which was scheduled to be held on 1 December, apparently because the Dalai Lama would be visiting several EU countries at the same time and be meeting with a number of EU heads of state or governments and institutions. The EU expressed disappointment at the decision and said that it intends to continue promoting the relationship of strategic partnership that it enjoys with China, particularly at a time when the global economic and financial situation calls for extremely close cooperation between Europe and China.