Asian Labour Update ALU

Linked with Asia Monitor Resource Center AMRC.

Healthy Working, by Ed Shepherd, ALU Issue No. 39, April – June 2001.

Westerners use the term ‘as mad as a hatter’ to describe someone who is eccentric. The saying is based on a character called the Mad Hatter in Lewis Carroll’s nineteenth century fantasy, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

The Mad Hatter reflected Carroll’s awareness of industrial diseases – in Carroll’s day, hatmakers developed nervous problems, leading to a common misunderstanding that they were crazy. But mercury vapour, formed during hat production, causes nervous problems when we absorb them. Hatters were not mad; they suffered from erethism – memory loss, irritability, depression and anxiety.

The mercury compound was eventually banned from use in factories, one of the first modern protective measures to be implemented for Occupational Safety and Health OSH: Homepage, Contact, Legislation.

This issue of ALU looks at OSH in Asia Pacific where we find companies unwilling to protect workers?wellbeing. Main articles are based on documents submitted to regional OSH seminars jointly organised by AMRC in Cambodia and Bangkok recently.

There is no doubt that one of the most important but neglected issues for working people is accidents and disease at work.

Unfortunately it is not a popular topic among workers or unions, an attitude encouraged by managers who urge workers to take dangerous, even fatal, shortcuts to boost profits as we saw at the Tokaimura nuclear plant in Japan.

Workers often receive money for saving production time, as is systematic for piece rate workers … (full text).

Comments are closed.