June 13, 2024


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BWI: Climate crisis calls for action to protect workers in an overheating planet, COP28 leaders must deliver

(Photo: politico.com / Andrew West)

Dubai, UAE, November 30, 2022 – The intense series of record-breaking heatwaves, floods, droughts, and forest fires recorded in 2022 and 2023 has changed the way millions of workers in the construction, wood and forestry, and building materials sectors work and live. For many, extreme temperatures have brought death on the job due to heatstroke or cardiovascular failures. Climate change has forced others to migrate as a coping strategy in the face of economic woes and extreme weather events. By 2050, between 25 and 300 million people are expected to be displaced due to climate change.

The General Secretary of Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI), Ambet E. Yuson, stated:

“A growing number of workers in BWI sectors are experiencing the direct impacts of climate change, which will increase in number and severity. Without urgent protective measures in place before heatwaves, damage to health and death will become the new normal for outdoor labourers, especially in countries like those in the Gulf, where already long periods of extreme heat are becoming longer and threatening the health and livelihoods of our workers. Governments and employers must take responsibility. Every avoidable fatality is murder.”

At COP28, BWI is calling on governments to:

  • Prioritise the implementation of a Just Transition Work Program that places labour issues at its core, upholds human rights, and enhances labour standards for all workers, regardless of their status.
  • Take urgent measures to enhance occupational health and safety standards and heat stress mitigation measures to safeguard workers in climate emergencies.
  • Develop climate-resilient infrastructure and housing considering the well-being and needs of the most vulnerable workers, contributing to long-term climate adaptation, withstanding extreme weather conditions, and mitigating climate-related risks.

With the issue of loss and damage at the centre of the COP28 debate and ongoing discussions on delivering the Building Breakthrough Agenda among governments and businesses, high priority needs to be placed on ensuring that the voice of the affected construction workers and frontline communities is heard.

BWI General Secretary Ambet E. Yuson continued:

“Workers need to be part of the solutions. They will build the homes and infrastructure needed to achieve the emission reductions commitments in the Paris Agreement. Without workers and their trade unions at the table, there is no guarantee that initiatives for a low-carbon and resilient world will ensure justice for the most vulnerable communities of workers, and not just profits for the wealthy few.”


For more information

  1. BWI Manifesto for Healthy and Safe Workplaces for Migrant Workers in Extreme Heat and the Climate Crisis https://tinyurl.com/27hz9xnv
  2. BWI Policy Brief Protecting Migrant Workers in an Overheating Planet: A Call to Action https://tinyurl.com/3s3savd7
  3. BWI Factsheet Protecting Migrant Workers in an Overheating Planet https://tinyurl.com/y8zwz3ja
  4. Ambet Yuson op-ed piece “Too hot to work: What record heat means for migrant workers in construction.” https://tinyurl.com/2yydpc6a

BWI is the Global Union Federation grouping 360 free and democratic trade unions representing 12 million workers in the Building, Building Materials, Wood, Forestry and Allied sectors across 117 countries.  www.bwint.org

Media Contacts

 Paola Cammilli, Global Director for Campaigns, info@bwint.org

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