Only 20 safety supervisors for more than 10 million laborers in Yemen [Archives:2008/1151/Front Page]

May 1 2008

By: Yemen Times Staff
SANA'A, May 1 ) Yemen is marking International Labor Day, also called May Day, by celebrating the occasion in its capital city of Sana'a today.

Mohammed Al-Jidri, head of the General Union for Yemeni Laborers, told the Yemen Times that more than 100 workers selected from all governorates will be awarded at the celebration at the Cultural Center.

He noted that each governorate will celebrate the occasion by rewarding several distinguished workers, adding, “Even companies will celebrate the day, with 4,000 workers being rewarded.”

According to him, Yemen has more than 10 million laborers between the ages of 15 and 64 working in the private, public and agricultural sectors. Yemen's estimated population is 21 million, 45.9 percent of whom are under age 15.

Al-Jidri noted that the Yemeni Laborers Union plays a large role in spreading awareness among workers about work risks. “We conduct awareness courses about safety and work risks, in addition to preparing trainers who visit the work field to spread awareness among employees,” he explained, adding that the labor union also distributes brochures and posters about work safety and work environment risks.

Work risks are on the rise

An April 28 report by the General Department for Safety at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor reported 1,258 diseases among Yemeni laborers. Additionally, it reported nine workers killed and another 1,092 injured while on duty. Among the injured, 43 were partially disabled and five were completely disabled.

The report was disclosed at a celebration in Sana'a marking the International Labor Organization's April 28 World Day for Safety and Health at Work, which Yemen celebrated for the first time this year.

On that day, the organization noted that 2.2 million people worldwide die annually due to work-related accidents and diseases, further indicating that such work-related deaths appear to be on the rise.Continued on page 2

The organization added that each year, an estimated 270 million people suffer non-fatal, work-related accidents resulting in at least three days' absence from work and an additional 160 million others suffer some work-related illness.

According to Al-Jidri, in 2006, the rate of such incidents at work in Yemen was 19 percent but increased to 22 percent in 2007. “Work-related incidents have increased due to the spread of industrial facilities coupled with lack of awareness by work facility owners,” he said.

He further noted that while there are more than 44,000 such facilities (companies, industrial facilities, hospitals, etc.) throughout Yemen, “There are only 20 health and safety supervisors, who can't supervise all of these facilities, as it would require five to seven years to check them all.”

Al-Jidri pointed out that there are no safety or health doctors in Yemen. “It must be stressed that some diseases among workers appear only after five or 10 years, so there must be doctors to treat them ,” he concluded.


One difficulty the Yemeni Labor Union faces is lack of understanding by some employers regarding its role. “Some leaders within private and government institutions view our work as an intervention; however, we consider ourselves their partners. Not understanding the union's role is a hurdle in itself,” Al-Jidri explained.

He added that increasing unemployment, price hikes and deteriorating living standards are other problems.

“Every year, approximately 188,000 students graduate from university, with only 16,000 jobs for them, so what will be the fate for another 172,000 qualified graduates?” he wondered.