Asia and Pacific Seminar on Wages and Productivity: Statement by Pong-Sul Ahn

Statement | 27 April 2015
Brother Noriyuki Suzuki, General Secretary, ITUC-Asia Pacific
Brother Chuanhua Wu, Director, Africa & Western Asia Division, Int’l Dept, ACFTU
Brother Athit Kong, Representative of Cambodian Trade Unions
Bro Tun Sophorn, National Coordinator for ILO Phnom Penh

Good morning, colleagues,

On behalf of ACTRAV Director, Ms Andre Maria Helena, I would like to convey our warmest greetings to each and every one of you participating in this seminar.

We have total thirty trade unionists coming from fifteen countries in the Asia and the Pacific region, plus around ten participants from ILO in Bangkok, Cambodia and Indonesia. We hope your journey from the home country to Phnom Penh was as smooth as silk.

We are also pleased with the presence of ITUC-AP General Secretary, Bro Noriyuki Suzuki at this seminar. We know you are extremely busy with your engagement in many of union occasions across the region. Hence, we are very thankful for your deliberation of opening remarks and a technical session, together with Francis Kim, Research and Information Officer.

Today’s seminar is, to some extent, relevant to the “ILO-ACTRAV/ACFTU Regional Trade Union Seminar on Wage Policies”, which was held on 16-18 April 2013 in Bali, Indonesia. Some of you must have attended the event and are aware of its conclusions. The seminar focused discussion on wage policies; it analysed wages trends in the Asia and the Pacific region and proposed appropriate ideas for policy development on wages in the region.

The seminar requested ILO assistance in areas of joint research with trade unions on wage issues, training, knowledge and information-sharing, and lobbying the governments to implement ILS, national minimum wage policies and regulations.

The Bali seminar recommended trade unions to take a holistic approach on wage issues. Please allow me to highlight its recommendations concerning the role of trade unions for improving wage policies.
  • Develop and promote collective bargaining to improve working conditions and wages for workers;
  • Co-coordinate and communicate with governments and with supporting institutions about the ratification and implementation of conventions (No.87 on Freedom of Association, No.98 on Right to Collective Bargaining, No.100 on Equal Remuneration, No.111 on Discrimination (of Occupation and Employment), No.131 on Minimum Wage Fixing and No.151 on Labour Relations (for Public Service));
  • Promote cooperation between private and public sector workers and identify common issues between the two sectors.
  • Influence on international investment to advocate on workers’ rights;
  • Promote union solidarity and build one umbrella union organization per country to improve union coordination and cooperation on wage issues;
  • Engage as members of the national wage board – with appropriate capacity and skills;
  • Act as watchdogs to monitor the implementation of the minimum wage and understand the issues and challenges on wages;
  • Cooperate with independent researchers like universities and research institutions to get support from academia;
  • Utilize media/ other social media network to communicate wage issues with workers
  • National unions need to empower local level unions, e.g. provide guidelines, resources and training on research methodologies, analytical skills, and negotiation skills.
  • Conduct case studies of wage conditions in order to strengthen workers’ demands

Today’s seminar is aimed at
- sharing country practices on wage rises
- improving wage negotiation skills
- promoting the implementation and ratification of ILO convention concerning Minimum Wage Fixing, 1970 (No. 131)
- developing union action plans to take follow up activities at the national level and launching a campaign for wage rises and improved living standards

Many colleagues have already submitted their country report on “National wage setting and bargaining practices” which could be served as main discussant materials of the seminar. We take this opportunity to sincerely thank all of you for your kind cooperation extended to us, invaluable time spent for the preparation of the papers and contribution made for the seminar.

This seminar is supported by the ACTRAV-ACFTU Project which promotes good practices and knowledge-sharing on workplace issues through a South-South cooperation platform. We are thankful for the ACFTU initiative for promoting the South-South Cooperation within the Asia and the Pacific region.

Finally, we highly expect that you could actively involve in discussions of each technical session and share your knowledge and experience with your colleagues at this event. We also wish you have a pleasant stay in Phnom Penh and have some time to discover the unique culture of Cambodia during your stay.

Thank you very much!