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Sparkling in European shopping malls, Striking people in China –
Shining gemstones kill Chinese workers!



While sparkling gemstones from all over the globe are displayed in BaselWorld, thousands of workers who polished and cut these gemstones are quietly dying in China! They are dying of silicosis, a deadly occupational disease caused by inhalation of silica particles in the workplace of gemstone processing industry.

Since 2004, thousands of silicosis cases have been reported in gemstone processing factories in southern Guangdong Province in China, which contributed more than half of the country's US$5.5 billion jewelry exports in 2006. But the industry is thriving at the expense of human lives of Chinese workers! Each year, 15,000-20,000 more cases are reported and more than 6,000 patients die of the disease. The annual death toll of silicosis in all industries is even higher than that of coal mine accidents. Some of the victims received several hundred US dollars as private settlements and returned to the rural home towns while the majority was simply dismissed by their employers. In the process of claiming legal compensation, these victims are faced with grave problems such as factory relocation and liquidation, termination of employment relation, difficulties in obtaining diagnosis as well as prolonged litigation process.

Over the past two years, these victims and Labour Action China have been putting forth grave concerns to the Baselworld Jewellery Trade Fair (the biggest trade show on jewellery and gemstones in Basel, Switzerland) over the outbreak of silicosis in a number of Hong Kong-invested jewelry companies that exhibit in the show. But until today, exhibitors with proved violations of labour right remain profit-making in the Basel booths. Baselworld, as the largest trade show of its kind in the globe, should no longer tolerate the presence of any sweatshop company in the exhibition; the international community would not accept it either.

Harm has already done to the industry. Inaction will only breed more violations of labour rights and cause greater havoc to the victims. Baselworld should take up the responsibility to mitigate the problems and rebuild creditability in face of the outcry of silicosis victims, their families and all the concerned civil society organizations.

We therefore strongly demand of Baselworld:

  1. to set up an implementation mechanism that works to investigate and stop any exhibitor associated with silicosis cases and unsettled compensation claims from taking part in the exhibition;

  2. to enforce the international labour rights standards and the relevant regulations on prevention and compensation of silicosis;

  3. to commit efforts in enhancing the industry's awareness in occupational safety and health as well as the working conditions of the workers.
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簽署呼籲信
國內大部份從事寶石生產的工人,因在工作環境長期吸入工序所產生的塵埃,及缺乏保護設備,而得到多種肺部的職業病。工人得病後往往沒有合理補償。這個網上簽署呼籲信的行動由香港基督教工業委員會及中國勞動透視發起,信件將會寄往國際及本港的珠寶業商會。我們請你向國際及本港的珠寶業界表達你對國內工人權益的關注。
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發動機構:香港基督教工業委員會 / 中國勞動透視  電郵:lac@lac.org.hk  Powered by 01Power
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