by Betheena Unite, 19 Dec 2020
A federation of workers has reminded the Asian Development Bank (ADB) of its commitment to prohibit the use of deadly asbestos in all its funded projects, including the EDSA walkway project.
In a statement, the Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) appealed to the ADB to ensure that its $123 million forthcoming covered pedestrian access loan projects in several locations on EDSA are asbestos-free.
“The EDSA Greenways Project will definitely be a major convenience for commuters, provide ease to all sorts of pedestrians, create jobs, help jumpstart the local economy, and help reduce carbon footprint. However, the health and safety of commuters can only be ensured if the materials used for the structures are free from asbestos-containing materials,” said Gerard Seno, National Executive Vice President of ALU-TUCP.
“As a civil society organization social dialogue partner, we remind the ADB of its commitment to zero asbestos and asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) in all its funded projects beginning with this EDSA Greenways Project,” Seno added.
Aside from organizing unions across multi-sectors, advocating for higher wages, and campaigning for better labor standards and occupational safety and health standards, the ALU-TUCP is also a part of a global ban asbestos network coordinated by the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS) and composed of trade unions, asbestos victims’ groups, campaigning organizations, advocates, and health experts.
In a Nov. 9 communication to IBAS, Bruce Dunn, director of the ADB Safeguards Division, confirmed the bank’s intention to prohibit the use of all asbestos-containing products on ADB projects amid policy reform pressure asserted by the network.
“We are aware of the severe health effects that an exposure to ACMs (asbestos-containing materials) can have on people exposed to this material. For this reason, ADB is taking several actions intended to limit the risks of asbestos exposure in our projects,” Dunn said.
“We are now preparing an internal memorandum that recommends for future ADB projects to refrain from supporting the procurement of any products containing asbestos. This is an interim measure until the SPS (Safeguard Policy Statement) is updated,” Dunn added.
The ADB in 2009 explicitly prohibited financing for the production of, trade in, or use of unbonded asbestos fibers but the purchase and use of bonded asbestos cement sheeting where asbestos content was less than 20 percent has been permitted.