10th EWHN Conference for labour & occupational health and safety representatives and professionals
“Workers finding a voice in a new Europe"
Friday September 29th to Sunday October 1st 2006, 
Baltic Beach Hotel, Majori, Jurmula, 

Conference Report 

opening session closing session key workshop reports infomeeting reports topical workshop reports photo's presentations list of participants



Conference program

Key workshops

Info meetings

National networks

Topical workshops


For translation of this website go to

Babel Fish Translation

translate to French

translate to German

translate to Russian

translate to Spanish

translate to Italian

translate to other languages


Key Workshop E

International Occupational Health and Safety Risk Transfers: capital and labour movements

The movement of industries and companies, within and between countries, is centuries old. However, the pace and extent of such movements has recently increased rapidly on the basis of greater access of companies to some countries with low wage economies, financial incentives to set up businesses and limited or no labour and health and safety regulation. The global movements too of migrants from such countries with low wage economies into hazardous industries occupations especially in low wage sectors in Western Europe and North America is a matter of growing concern. The recent deaths of Polish agricultural workers and Chinese cockle pickers in the UK illustrate the high human costs of movements into often poorly regulated or unregulated workplaces

This workshop will draw on a small number of case studies of relevant industries and companies and the contributions of workshop participants to analyse these developments. Case studies may include electronics companies moving between West and East Europe, international movements of textile and service industries, problems of migrant construction workers from Poland and Latvia in Western Europe.

The workshop will explore the subject, with particular reference to the movement of industries and activities from Western Europe to and between Central and Eastern European countries.

The following themes may be addressed in the discussions:-

  • Mapping movements and motivations of risk transfer. The economics and geography of risk transfer
  • Means to assess risk transfer impacts on occupational health and safety in transfer countries including the impacts of migration of companies from West to East and migration of workers from East to West.
  • Role of WTO, IMF and international agencies in facilitating transfer
  • Role of international agencies and European bodies such as ILO, ISO (especially ISO 2600), EU health, safety and environment bodies in controlling changes
  • Role of international trade unions in campaigning and controlling companies. What works, what doesn’t and why? International Framework Agreements
  • Country specific regulation or non-regulation of risk transfer. What can labour inspectors and ministries do in those countries to which risk is transferred and could they do more?
  • Country specific campaigns for accountability from governments, companies and consumers. ‘No sweat’ campaigns. Winners and losers
  • Role of other NGOs such as EWHN, Hazards, SOEH in identifying and addressing

Facilitator: Andrew Watterson (GB)

back to key workshops

Workshop Report

10th European Work Hazards Network Conference 2006

29th September – 1st October 2006; Baltic Beach Hotel, Jurmala, Latvia

Workshop E: International Occupational Health and Safety Risk Transfers

Facilitated by Andrew Watterson, Scotland

The workshop identified: 1. Those most affected by risk transfer

2. Checks and balances that might be available to control transfer

3. Effective solutions to risk transfer

  1. Those affected by risk transfer: processes and people. A complex picture was built up of who was affected and why. Risk transfer occurred between countries and within countries. From high wage to low wage economies, regions and areas; from high tech to low tech; from high tech to low wage and high skills economies; from Western to Eastern Europe in terms of industries and from Eastern Europe to Western Europe in terms of people, and from one European country to another. Groups of workers most affected included contract and sub-contract workers, casual workers, migrant workers, women workers, young workers, full-time and part time workers and ‘self-employed’ workers often from Asia and Africa to Western Europe and into old and new industries and service sectors. Each often emerged because of a range of factors and posing a unique set of challenges to control or prevent risk transfer sometimes within a common economic or technical or political framework.

  2. Checks and balances. These existed at different macro and micro levels and worked in different ways with varied success. ILO codes and conventions had a role in protecting vulnerable workers but de facto policies and practices of WTO and other organisations usually placed hazards of risk transfer low down the list of their priorities as did the World Bank. ISO standards at one level appeared to offer solutions but several workshop members had had negative experiences with such tools. Similar problems existed with European wide and national specific legislation and enforcement to control risk transfer between countries and between groups of workers. Global union federations, international framework agreements and national and local trade unions potentially offered other effective means of organising – with some successes in the construction industry, textiles and electronics - but many workers were not unionised and had to rely on other methods and means to combat risk transfer and economic forces often overpowered worker organisations.

  3. Effective solutions. Again, these operated at different levels and in different ways. Successful albeit small-scale interventions didn’t always require large resources and staff. Trade union organisations at all levels had helped to control risk transfer and raise standards in workplaces to which significant risks had been transferred. Examples of such workplace interventions existed from Germany, Austria, Netherlands and Scotland. Norway to Sweden aluminium rolling transfer showed plant level risk control successes were possible. International networking and campaigning could also be critical. Interventions in particular sectors could benefit from international or other national organisations. For instance ICRT and SVTC campaigns had impacted upon global electronic companies and contributed to improved workplace and environmental controls when risk was transferred. The No Sweat campaign had also been successful in some interventions along the supply chain within the textile industry and consumer/NGO support could be critical in controlling risks in several sectors. The use of the media was an additional and sometimes important and highly effective tool for small groups with limited resources who could ratchet up pressure on global enterprises engaged in risk transfer.

tot see the ppt.slides click below

Risk Transfers slides.ppt


back to key workshops