The international trade union movement is calling on its affiliates to mark World AIDS Day on 1 December. The year 2010 has noted important developments. During the 99th International Labour Conference, trade unions made a commitment to support a strong and ambitious new instrument on HIV and AIDS, the new ILO Recommendation 200 on HIV and AIDS and the World of Work.
The ILO Recommendation breaks new ground in providing for HIV and AIDS to be dealt with as a workplace issue and for highlighting the human rights consequences of the epidemic.
Trade unions wish to use the 2010 WAD theme “Universal Access and Human Rights” to contribute to building awareness around the issue that HIV/AIDS is a disease of societies. HIV transmission takes place mainly along the faultlines caused by poverty, gender inequality and social injustice, and is fuelled by the disempowerment of women and of young people, migrants, sex workers, workers in the informal sector, the unemployed, refugees, and sexual minorities. Medical science therefore cannot succeed alone and needs social action to help it to combat HIV transmission.
The workplace cannot be left out of a coherent global strategy to control the epidemic: HIV/AIDS has the face of a worker, since it is people of working age – 15 to 49 years – who are at greatest risk. HIV/AIDS is therefore squarely a workplace issue. The economic and social impact of the epidemic is disastrous and the workplace is crucial for successful action to combat it. We want to recall that while HIV and AIDS funding is stalled due to the impact of the global financial crisis, the progression of HIV and of AIDS has not stalled - still for every 2 people put on treatment 5 more become HIV positive and every day more than 5,000 people die of AIDS. The implementation of the new ILO Recommendation should be pursued as swiftly as possible, through very concrete and results-oriented steps, while insisting on the governments’ promise to meet the Millennium Development Goal to halt and begin to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS by 2015.
HIV is also a human rights issue closely related to workplace non-discrimination laws and regulations. We call for adoption of workplace HIV/AIDS policies at the national level and for them to be rights-oriented, non-discriminatory, and mainstreamed into national Decent Work and development programmes as well as poverty reduction strategies. We believe that all countries, whatever their risk of HIV, would benefit from a policy framework that brings HIV-related workplace challenges into the open, protects against discrimination, respects privacy and confidentiality rights, prevents risk of occupational exposure to HIV and ensures the participation of all stakeholders from relevant institutions.
Global Unions AIDS Program / Jan Eastman, Chairperson
The Global Unions AIDS Program serves as a platform for international trade union organizations (Global Unions) - Global Union Federations (GUFs) and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) - for information exchange, bringing coordination, complementarity and coherence into their respective HIV/AIDS related activities, as well as for common advocacy for a human rights based approach to HIV and AIDS and the world of work.