CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENTATIONS
The Asian Regional Conference Follow-up on Campaign for Ratification and Application of ILO Conventions 87 and 98 organized by the ILO ACTRAV/ITUC-AP/Trade Unions in Nepal was held from 17-19 August 2011, with the participation of 40 participants, representing 12 national centers in 8 countries in the region. Representatives from Global Union Federations- BWI, UNI, PSI, ICEM, ITF and TWARO were also present.
The Conference was held to review and evaluate the developments that have taken place after the 2009 conference which was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on the campaign for ratification and application of ILO Conventions 87 and 98 on Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining.
Since 2009, significant and encouraging progress has been made. Trade unions have become even more active and involved in undertaking campaign activities targeting various levels, in particular:
The strength of the unity of the trade unions in the country was demonstrated through a National Conference held in August 2010, where in trade unions agreed on a united platform to undertake joint plans and actions of the major trade union centers in the country. A study was commissioned by ILO/ACTRAV which analyzed and examined the extent to which the central laws in India concerning the right to organise and collective bargaining of workers are in conformity with the core labour standards. The study found several lapses and emphasized the necessity of the ratification of the core conventions.
Following the conference, trade unions have been actively taking steps to influence the ratification of the core conventions and are now in regular consultation with the Ministry of Labour, the ILO and its technical specialists. Trade unionists at various levels have also been sensitized on the importance of ratification and the need to take action.
The national conference which was held in May 2011 paved the way for a tripartite discussion on ratification of the core conventions. The collective bargaining and negotiation skills of trade unions at enterprise level were also strengthened through training programs and related activities.
The campaign has succeeded in heightening the awareness among union members on the ratification of ILO Convention 98 and has also resulted in the granting of the rights to organize in some companies in the electronics industry. A study on minimum wage is also ongoing.
The set of conclusions and recommendations adopted at the national conference by around 90 participants from the major national trade union centers demanding immediate action on the ratification of ILO Convention 87 was presented to the Prime Minister, Speaker of the Parliament and relevant authorities.
Several workshops have been held, meetings with parliamentarians and demonstrations organized. The previous Prime Minister announced that the Government will revisit the ratification issue and the joint actions by unions and other like-minded organizations have been carried out.
However, there continues to be a high degree of violations of trade union rights especially in countries where all the core conventions have been ratified such as Bangladesh, Indonesia and Cambodia. Anti-union discrimination, strikes-related violence, administrative interference in union activities, etc are affecting the effective exercise of freedom of association and collective bargaining rights. There is also growth in the informal economy and increase in precarious work like part-time jobs, sub contract and outsourcing, home work and agency work.
In addition, the Asian region, where some countries are experiencing tremendous growth in economic development there is evidence that shows that it has the lowest rate of ratification of ILO Core Labour Standards compared to the rest of the world. There is obviously an imbalance between economic growth and exercise of trade union and workers’ rights.
In line with the decision of the ILO to achieve universal ratification of the ILO Core Conventions by 2015, the promotion of human and trade union rights in the region through sustained and coordinated campaign activities becomes increasingly important. Trade unions would like to see this goal achieved in the region. At the same time, international solidarity and support is vital in attaining this objective.
Trade union participants attending the conference believe that a lot more needs to be done in order for the campaign to achieve better results. A strengthened and more focused campaign is warranted. The participating trade unions remain committed to ensure the attainment of desired campaign outcomes.
As part of their recommendations, trade unions agree that work on the following areas should be carried out:
- Stronger advocacy and political influence by trade unions for the ratification and better application of ILO Conventions 87 and 98;
- Meaningful trade union education and awareness-raising sessions
- Promote the application of ILO standards and the use of supervisory mechanisms to protect and defend workers’ rights
- Union solidarity work to promote the inclusion of a “social and labor rights agenda” in the ASEAN, SAARC, etc.
- Promote the greater use of core labour standards in the operations, processes and activities of international financial institutions such as ADB, World Bank, IMF and IFC.
- Seek out other available international instruments trade unions can use in order to promote the ratification and implementation of C87 and C98.
- Ensuring that Core Labour Standards are incorporated as core priorities in Decent Work Country Programs (DWCPs).
Trade union delegates to the 15th Asia Pacific Regional Meeting in Kyoto, according to the conference participants, should ensure that respect for trade union rights, ratification and implementation of ILS should be made a priority.
The participating trade unions also developed Country Action Plans containing details of how these areas can be carried out. These are attached as an integral part of this document.
Adopted, 19 August 2011.