In Sendai, the international trade union delegation is led by the Public Service International, with participation from several unions.
Trade unions approach Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) from four critical angles:
PREVENTION: The fairest and most cost-effective way to avoid the loss of lives, health and property when facing disasters is to prevent them from occurring, to reduce the risk and limit vulnerability. This requires high levels of preparedness, especially in vulnerable areas and communities. Current austerity measures prevent building and maintaining resilient infrastructures able to protect workers and communities. Many public services play key roles, from anticipating, to evacuating, responding and recovering.
Workplaces also play a critical role as communication hubs. Democratic disaster-prevention strategies, which inform potentially vulnerable groups of people (i.e. workers in specific areas or industries) or communities about risks, but also involve them in designing prevention and response strategies, have proven to be the most successful. Governments and public and private employers have the responsibility to develop these strategies.
SOCIAL PROTECTION: Trade unions advocate for DRR policies which support resilience through the creation and strengthening of social protection systems, including:
- income-security mechanisms
- unemployment benefits
- child care and maternity protection
- universal access to essential health care
- pensions, including for people with disabilities
- These mechanisms are able to sustain the livelihoods of families and communities that might be at risk and today face these risks with little or no protection.
SUSTAINABLE RECOVERY: The need to ensure that reconstruction efforts are designed, planned and implemented with community involvement – ensuring there is no discrimination based on gender, age, income, color, disability, among others - and with thorough integration of sustainability challenges. Reconstruction should be an opportunity for creating better and more sustainable livelihood opportunities for workers, and should not be used to privatise. Communities should never be expelled from their lands for the benefit of more profitable investments.
PUBLIC SERVICES: The need for ensuring a well-resourced public service of prevention and response to catastrophes, which includes the training, equipping and support of all workers committed to ensure the safety of families and communities before, during and immediately after extreme weather events and other disasters.
Trade Unions have taken the floor in the Opening plenary. Here’s what we said