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International trade unions, led by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and global union the Building Workers' International (BWI), have joined with health networks including victims groups representing those suffering from asbestos-related diseases and their families from around the world, in declaring their outrage at the economic blackmail on Sri Lanka by the Russian Government.

On December 18th 2017, Russia abruptly halted imports of tea from Sri Lanka, causing a major threat to the Sri Lankan economy. Just 2 days later the Sri Lankan Government announced its decision to defer banning asbestos imports from Russia.

Sri Lanka had previously announced a phasing out of asbestos starting 1 January 2018, with a full ban planned by 2024.

Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), said:  “Imposing chrysotile asbestos on an unwilling nation is not fair trade, it is culpable homicide. Unions worldwide abhor this cynical economic blackmail. Russia must not and will not be allowed to blow a hole in fair trade rules.”

Source: Building and Wood Worker's International

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