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These were the first set of programmes under the ASEAN Trade Union Council (ATUC) and the Tripartite Action for the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers in the ASEAN Region (known as the ASEAN TRIANGLE Project (ATP)), a joint initiative of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development launched in 2012 to help promote and protect the rights of migrant workers.

The Project is enabling ATUC to address five of its nine priority areas for 2010-2016: (1) ASEAN labor, fair globalization and FTAs, including an ASEAN ECOSOC; (2) the Global Jobs Pact and the Social Protection Floor, (3) migrant workers including trafficking; (4) coherence between ILO Conventions and national laws; and (5) youth employment and elimination of child labour. The other ATUC priority areas are (6) the ASEAN Social Charter, the ATUC Trade Union Roadmap, the responses to the ASEAN Labor Ministers’ Work Programme, and country actions; (7) the Decent Work Country Programmes; (8) progressive labour practices and workforce development; and (9) Decent Work and IFIs. LO FTF Council, the Danish trade union council for international development co-operation, also provides assistance to ATUC for decent work-oriented activities.

Through the International Trade Union Confederation-Asia Pacific (ITUC-AP), these activities were conducted to strengthen the capacity of ATUC affiliates to institutionalize trade union initiatives and services for migrant workers, in the light of the ASEAN Integration Initiative 2015. The activities oriented ATUC affiliates on the ILO ASEAN TRIANGLE Project, the set of ATUC activities under the Project, and the Opportunities and Challenges in ASEAN 2015 and their implication on migrant workers and the work of trade unions.

The Bangkok programmes identified/validated ATUC priorities, including activities on labour migration, in ASEAN 2015. The activities revised ATUC’s existing complaints mechanism, process flow and referral system in dealing with migrant workers in distress. The adoption of an inter-union cooperation agreement to promote the rights of migrant workers in ASEAN reflected ATUC’s priorities in labour migration. ATUC affiliates will craft and submit national proposals based on the Inter-Union Agreement.

The Inter-Union Agreement calls for, among other things:

  • Organizing migrant workers in the countries of origin and destination, ensuring their participation in union activities and obtaining trade union protection in case of abuses and violations of their rights;
  • Designating and building capacities of focal points in ATUC affiliates, to support implementation of work for protection of migrant workers;
  • Regular cross-border meetings and joint evaluation of progress made in the implementation of the Agreement and bilateral agreements in order to effect possible improvements; and
  • Strengthening engagement with other sub-regional and regional union groupings, as well as those from the ASEAN plus-plus clusters, for broadening coverage of migrant worker protection.

Twenty-five (eight women) key leaders and focal points on migrant labour from 16 ATUC affiliates and Migrant Resource Centres participated in the programmes. The recommendations of the programme will be presented to the ATUC leaders meeting in Manila in October 2014.

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