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24 May 2017

Brazil: BWI and IndustriALL release joint statement in support of the victims of the collapse of the Fundão Dam

The global union federations Building and Wood Workers International (BWI) and IndutriALL jointly released a statement in solidarity to the victims and to demand from the government and the companies concrete actions to indemnify the victims and their families and to mitigate the damages caused by this accident . Among the damages caused there are the death of 14 construction workers and 1 mining worker, and the 2,000 workers who lost their jobs.
The organizations, which together represent 62 million workers, have also submitted demands to the government for improvements in dam regulations and inspections, in order to prevent new accidents from occurring; and to the companies involved to take action to reduce or resolve the impacts caused by the accident .

See the statement below:

“Declaration of BWI and IndustriALL Global Unions
on the Fundão Dam accident in Mariana, Minas Gerais, Brazil


On 5th November 2015, Fundão Dam located close to the city of Mariana in the state of Minas Gerais collapsed. The dam at the Germano site of Samarco Mineração whose owners are the Anglo-Australian BHP and the Brazilian Vale S. A. The accident killed 19 people, among them 14 construction workers and one from the mining sector. More than 2,000 workers became unemployed in the sectors of mining, construction, electricity, and agriculture.

The accident also released more than 35-million cubic meters of tailings of ore and water, according to Samarco. A wave of mud formed and devastated the places it passed through. The River Doce, that passes through East of Minas Gerais and flows until the coast of the state of Espirito Santo, was completely polluted. Around 40 cities - some of them have to suspend the water supply - suffered consequences that affected the lives of closely half a million people.
This dam collapsed was even labelled as the worst environmental disaster of the country.

This year, at 28th of April 2017, we commemorate the International Workers Memorial Day (IWMD) to remember those who have suffered or died in the course of their work. Our global unions - the Building and Wood Workers´ International (BWI) and IndustriALL Global Union - pay tribute to the workers that lost their lives in the biggest work accident in the recent Brazilian history and demand to the Brazilian government and the companies involved to undertake the appropriate actions to mitigate the environmental and social impacts with the participations of trade unions and communities that were affected.

With the solidarity of 62-million workers represented by our global unions, we demand that the Brazilian authorities put concrete and decisive measures that will prevent any repeat of the Fundão Dam accident in any of the 17,259 registered dams in the country.

We demand the government to act on the following:
1. To better regulate outsourced companies that work on the dams to avoid irregular outsourcing;
2. To provide infrastructure to guarantee that the labour inspectorate performs their work effectively;
3. To guarantee the participation of civil society organizations and community in the Foundation Renova which is responsible for mitigating the impact of the accident;
4. To put more stringent occupational safety and health (OHS) regulations in dams.
We also call on the companies for:
1. The indemnification of the families who lost their relatives and support to the children of the victims until the age of 21 years;
2. The indemnification of the workers who were working in the Dam in poor working conditions before and during the accident;
3. The recognition of the union rights and recognition of the access of the trade union in the workplaces and to respect collective bargaining agreements (CBA).

One year and a half since the accident, the government and employers’ actions are still not enough and families in need are not appropriately and fairly supported.

An accident with such huge impact should be a lesson for better regulations and stricter enforcement of labour standards as well as a wake-up call for recognition of workers’ rights.


Justice for the workers of Fundão Dam!
One death is too many. No more deaths in Brazilian Dams!
Unions make work safer!”


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