Published: 27/11/2002

December 1 is World AIDS Day, launched in 1988 to focus attention on the deadly impact of the global epidemic. Over the next two years, the United Nations Joint Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) will be campaigning around issues of discrimination against AIDS sufferers.

In connection with December 1 and the UNAIDS campaign, the IUF emphasizes that the epidemic and efforts to combat it are vital issues for trade unionists. The IUF and many affiliates have been active in this area, and the 2002 IUF Congress adopted a policy resolution which is reproduced below.

Resolution on HIV/AIDS

The 24th IUF Congress, meeting in Geneva, May 14-17, 2002

NOTES WITH GRAVE CONCERN the devastating impact of AIDS and HIV, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. This epidemic has affected millions of workers and their families, wiping out breadwinners and thus increasing poverty and leaving many children orphaned.

NOTES that a new report from the FAO (The impact of HIV/AIDS on food security in Africa; 22nd Regional Conference for Africa, February 2002) estimates that

in the 25 most affected countries in Africa, 7 million agricultural workers have died from AIDS since 1985.

16 million more deaths are likely in the next two decades.

food production is affected through reduction of land under cultivation, declining yields, decline in crop variety and changing cropping patterns, loss of agricultural skills. For example, In Zimbabwe, communal agricultural output has decreased by 50% in a five-year period, largely due to HIV/AIDS. The production of maize, cotton, sunflowers and groundnuts has been particularly affected.

NOTES that there is increasing pressure for AIDS orphans to be allowed to work in agriculture to cover the costs of their remaining on the farm/plantation and to pay school fees. There is a very real and immediate danger that these children will be exploited and their health put further at risk by exposure to occupational health and safety hazards.

FURTHER NOTES that agriculture is not the only sector in IUF’s jurisdiction to suffer drastically from the impact of HIV/AIDS, hotel and tourism workers are also greatly at risk. Africa is not the only continent affected, HIV/AIDS is a global crisis.

COMMENDS the tremendous work done by many trade unions at local, national and international level to combat HIV/AIDS and to win access to treatment at a fair and reasonable price.

WELCOMES the ILO code of practice on HIV/AIDS in the world of work as important measure to provide guidelines on how to address HIV/AIDS within the context of work and to prevent discrimination against workers affected.

ACKNOWLEDGES that governments have a critical role to play in developing and implementing national AIDS prevention policies.

CALLS on affiliates:

To be involved in awareness raising programmes and campaigns aimed at HIV/AIDS prevention and campaigns for provision of essential drugs at local, affordable prices.

To raise HIV/AIDS in collective bargaining, other appropriate fora with employers to ensure provision of training and preventive measures and no discrimination.

To promote the ILO Code of practice on HIV/AIDS in the world of work.

To work with their government to ensure an effective HIV/AIDS national prevention policy is implemented.

CALLS on the IUF Secretariat:

To work with appropriate UN agencies especially the ILO, FAO, WHO, UNAIDS to ensure information and resources are made available for trade unions representing vulnerable workers in the IUF’s sectors to work on HIV/AIDS.

To identify areas of co-operation with governmental organizations, NGOs and, where appropriate, employer and farmers’ organizations to address this crisis.