atuc leaders meeting oct 2017

The General Council of the ASEAN Trade Union Council (ATUC) adopted six broad action programmes for the next five years: social dialogue and stronger engagement with ASEAN; trade and investment agreements as tools for fair globalization; labour migration and fair treatment of migrant workers; women, youth and precarious work; stronger social protection systems; and decent work and IFIs on 17-18 October 2017 in Bangkok, Thailand.

Trade unions are active partners in creating a regional economic community that benefits the people and represent the interests of workers. ATUC affiliates will be more active in social dialogue and constructive engagement with ASEAN officials, bodies and organs at the national level. ATUC will help build the capacity of unions to engage in social dialogue with ASEAN decision making bodies on labor market issues, including labour migration, gender and corporate social responsibility CSR).

Trade and investment agreements should be tools for fair globalization. ATUC and its affiliates will make representations with the relevant ASEAN body to make ASEAN economic integration more people-oriented based on social justice and fundamental freedoms. With the participation of unions, national and regional consultations should help in asserting the right of ASEAN and countries to intervene in their own economies and retain their policy space in free trade agreements, including in the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

The programme on labour migration and fair treatment of migrant workers will strengthen cooperation of ATUC affiliates in origin and destination countries in ASEAN. It will facilitate easier migrant workers’ access to justice and dispute resolution through the ATUC Information System (ATIS) for Migrant Workers. Fair mobility and mutual recognition of skills for low and medium-skilled workers will be pushed.

ATUC and its affiliates will address the peculiarities of domestic work by increasing the visibility of organizing migrant domestic and sustaining campaigns for the ratification and implementation of ILO Convention Nos. 97 (Migration for Employment), 143 (Migrant Workers) and 189 (Domestic Workers). ATUC will actively engage in the formulation of action plans and implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030 at the country and regional levels, and in the consultations, adoption and implementation of a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration.

Many women and youth are in precarious work due to their vulnerabilities in the labour market. ATUC will establish its women and youth committee with follow up activities and action plan. The committee will work to increase representation of women and youth in trade unions at all levels. Affiliates will actively address gender-based violence and will participate in the discussions on (an) ILO instrument(s) on violence against women and men in the world of work. Unions will include precarious work in the tripartite and collective bargaining agenda. OSH awareness among youth will take centre stage, including in the 2nd ATUC Youth Rally in 2018 in Singapore.

A social ASEAN requires stronger social protection systems to help vulnerable groups and sectors cope with risks and alleviate poverty. ATUC and its affiliates will work with social partners to achieve social insurance for informal workers, universal health coverage, social protection floors for all, including portable social protection for migrant workers. ATUC will push for income security and access to health care at the minimum in the changes between jobs and other uncertainties due to the future of work challenges and climate change.

International financial institutions (IFIs) should not sacrifice decent work especially in design, funding, execution and monitoring of huge infrastructure projects. ATUC will monitor and engage IFIs to ensure better integration and compliance with decent work principles and core labour standards in their policies, projects and activities.

These principles will guide ATUC in developing and pursuing social and labour policies and programmes in ASEAN. ATUC will strengthen cooperation with social partners and appropriate trade unions and solidarity support organisations.

In the opening session, Bro. Abdul Halim Mansor, ATUC President, acknowledged that trade unions face many challenges with bigger and wider concerns. He encouraged the leaders to help make ATUC responsive to the needs and aspirations of workers and their families. Bro. Pong-Sul Ahn, Regional Specialist in Workers’ Activities, ILO ACTRAV, urged ATUC and its affiliates to strengthen governance in the world of work and collective bargaining mechanisms to protect the rights of workers, including migrant workers.

Bro. Shoya Yoshida, ITUC-AP General Secretary, reiterated the call for ATUC to strengthen its contributions to a social ASEAN and inclusive growth in the region. Bro. Ruben Torres, ATUC General Secretary, shared that a joint migrant resource centre would be set up in the Arab region to provide services for migrant workers from South and Southeast Asia. He introduced the creation of a proposed regional workers education institute. Bro. John De Payva, ATUC Vice-President, challenged the leaders and the Secretariat to mobilize resources and make ATUC more visible.

The General Council amended the ATUC Constitution by adding one vice president, raising the number of vice presidents to four, and designating the heads of ATUC women and youth committees as ex-officio vice presidents. The committees will be constituted in 2018.

The new set of ATUC officers are:

  • MTUC Malaysia (Bro. Abdul Halim Mansor), President
  • TUCP Philippines (Bro. Ruben Torres), General Secretary
  • Vice Presidents: SNTUC Singapore (Bro. John De Payva); KSPI Indonesia (Bro. Said Iqbal); SERC Thailand (Bro. Pongthiti Ponsilamanee) and CTUM Myanmar (Bro. Maung Maung) (2017-2019); KSTL Timor Leste (Bro. Zito Da Costa) and CLC Cambodia (Bro. Ath Thorn) (2019-2021)
  • Women and Youth Committee Co-Chairs, Ex-Officio Vice Presidents

The meeting also accomplished the following:

  • Took note of the forthcoming provisional LO/FTF Council Programme ‎2018-2021;
  • Discussed preliminary preparations for the 2nd ATUC Youth Rally in 2018;
  • Considered activities on labour migration (ATUC Triangle 2 Work Plan; implementation of ATUC Inter-Union Agreement and MOU with ArabTUC and SARTUC; proposed MOU among AseanTUC, ArabTUC, SARTUC, TUCA and ITUC-Africa; participation in the consultations towards a UN global compact global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration);
  • Encouraged affiliates to identify focal points for ASEAN concerns, e.g., AICHR, ALMM, SLOM, labour migration including AFML, social protection, CSR, OSH;
  • Heard the presentation on ILO Youth4OSH Project, including regional-level aspects, and identified potential areas of ATUC engagement; and
  • Approved the proposed ATUC Workers Education Institute (WEI).

Twenty-seven (four women) leaders and guests from the 18 ATUC affiliates, ILO ACTRAV and ITUC-AP participated in the meeting. The LO/FTF Council through ITUC-AP provided support to this activity.