OH&S Delegation Deepens Commitment
CoDev’s Labour Program Director, Carol Wood, is accompanying a group of occupational health and safety activists on an exchange with our Honduran partners CODEMUH, sponsored by the BC Federation of Labour. April 3rd and 4th were the first two days of the exchange between Canadians and Hondurans on Occupational Health and Safety.
After two days of intense concentration, and with one more day to go, it’s hard to avoid speaking in cliches. The plan from the start was fairly simple – BC trade unionists would prepare thematic presentations on the issues raised by the sisters at CODEMUH, who could talk about their experience, and finally we’d have a question and answer session on each topic. But I don’t know if anyone expected the glittering shower of sparks and ideas that started shooting around the room soon after the presentations started. There were hands flying up every few moments, little gasps of understanding, and heads nodding vigorously.
To say that our exchange so far has been rich would be a cliche, but true. To say that there have been many ah-ha moments would also be a cliche, but true. We have all been moved and inspired by each other.
Concretely, we have talked about how our health systems work, how committees function, how many injuries of different types occur, how we train our workers, the challenges we face in educating workers, the laws that provide a framework, the political system in our countries, human rights abuses and much more. But beyond the concrete details, we have communicated understanding, agreement, outrage, sadness, confusion and most importantly, solidarity.
The sessions have not been easy. Many times we have had to stop and get an explanation of a term or find out how an institution works. At some levels our countries are so different that it’s hard not to feel we won’t be able to connect.
But with everyone working hard to understand clearly, optimism prevails. CODEMUH has had many successes in the past few years, and the road in BC has brought us far. This exchange is hopefully just the beginning of a deeper commitment to global justice for workers in occupational health and safety.