Thursday, 26 July 2007

Unions demand progress on decent work and workers’ rights in Asia-Europe co-operation

Trade unionists from member countries of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) gathered in Jakarta, Indonesia called on the ASEM governments to step up their co-operation and joint work on employment and labour issues. The unionists met in order to take stock of the ASEM process and provide input to a future meeting of European and Asian Labour and Employment Ministers, currently under preparation. “We believe that there has been much positive progress within ASEM. A social pillar within the co-operation is emerging and continuous dialogue on employment is developing. But ASEM has not yet gone far enough. It still has an unbalanced approach to its work and an unbalanced representation of interests within its structures. Economic interests appear to be the sole priority in most discussions, while business is the only non-government actor with privileged and formal access to the process. If ASEM is to be relevant to the people of Asia and Europe, both content and process must be broadened and balanced”, said Guy Ryder, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

The meeting has been also supported and attended by representatives of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), the ASEAN Trade Union Council (ATUC), the ITUC’s regional organisations for Asia and the Pacific and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES). Today the unionists will meet with the Indonesian Minister for Manpower and Transmigration, Mr. Erman Suparno. Here they will, among other things, propose the establishment of formal channels to consult trade unions, similar to the current ‘Asia Europe Business Forum’. They will also discuss how to promote decent work in the two regions, how to define common strategies on life-long learning, how to improve social security, and how to ensure that expanding interdependence between countries of the regions doesn’t undermine, but indeed improves, labour standards and workers’ rights, including migrant workers’ rights.

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