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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release September 9, 1999


Today, I am sending to the United States Senate for advice and consent to ratification International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention Number 176, the "Convention Concerning Safety and Health in Mines." I have previously submitted to the Senate ILO conventions on employment discrimination (Convention Number 111) and the worst forms of child labor (Convention Number 182). Taken together, these steps demonstrate the importance I place on the ILO's work and my commitment to work together with labor and business interests through the ILO to raise labor standards around the world.

Mining has long been recognized as one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. Men, women--and sometimes even children--are exposed to hazards that can claim their lives or destroy their health. Mining employs more than 30 million people worldwide. Although that figure accounts for only one percent of the world's entire workforce, mining is responsible for about eight percent of fatal accidents at work, or around 15,000 per year. Despite the considerable advances in safety and health throughout this century, mining remains one of the most hazardous occupations worldwide.

In the United States, miners are protected by a strong and effective federal statute, enforced by the Mine Safety and Health Administration in the Department of Labor. A tripartite panel of American government, labor, and business representatives has reviewed the Convention and has concluded that the United States can ratify Convention 176 without changing our laws or regulations. But in other countries, miners may lack the legal protections they need and deserve. I urge the Senate to give its advice and consent to ratification of this Convention, to help ensure safe and healthful working conditions for miners the world over.

As an institution, the International Labor Organization plays a vital role in our efforts to put a human face on the global economy. My Administration, led by Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman and joined by our partners in labor and business, will continue to support the efforts of the ILO.

I look forward to working with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Leadership to advance Convention Number 176, and the other ILO conventions, toward ratification.

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