CIBJO urges manufacturers to recognize and compensate workers stricken with silicosis

CIBJO, the World Jewellery Confederation, has called on foreign and Hong Kong based companies who operate gemstone cutting and jewelry manufacturing operations in China, particularly in the Guangdong region, not only to investigate the silicosis epidemic that has stricken workers in gemstone and jewelry factories there, but also to ensure that they receive proper medical treatment, as well as reasonable compensation from their employers.

This appeal by CIBJO president Gaetano Cavalieri follows the publication of “Deadly Dust,” a report on the silicosis epidemic among Guangdong jewelry workers and the defects of China’s occupational illnesses prevention and compensation system. The report was originally published in Chinese last August, and now in English translation by the China Labour Bulletin, an NGO that monitors labor conditions and for all practical purposes defends the rights of industrial laborers in China.

Cavalieri published his statement only days after his return from Hong Kong, where he attended the meetings of the World Trade Organization.

“In Hong Kong, I met with CLB representatives who presented me with an outline of the report’s content. Judging by the evidence that these NGO representatives presented, I felt that it is imperative that our organization takes a crystal clear position in this matter,” Cavalieri said in a statement. The CIBJO president met the CBL representatives in a joint meeting with Cecilia Brighi, a high-ranking official of the Union Cisl, the Italian Labor Union.

“As the virtual United Nations of the international jewelry industry and trade, CIBJO is unequivocally committed to assuring that the production of jewelry would not involve forced or slave labor or child labor; that the production of jewelry will not cause any safety or health hazards to the workers, nor to any other people who are involved in the jewelry production process, and that the process of producing the jewelry or any parts and/or components thereof will not be harmful and will have no long term effects on the workers and/or the environment.”

Cavalieri said that during each of his visits this year to China and in his talks with Chinese industry and government representatives, he brought up the issue of the need to protect, advance and improve the labor and health conditions in China’s gem and jewelry industry. “I will continue to do so, until this issue is properly addressed by the industry as well as by the authorities,” he said.

“Addressing issues of this nature lies at the core of CIBJO’s purpose, and once again demonstrates our organization’s commitment to involve itself in each and every issue that affects consumer confidence in jewelry products,” he said.