Asia labour conference opens with strong ILO Arab States participation

ILO’s 16TH Asia and the Pacific Regional Meeting (APRM) opens in Bali, Indonesia, to set world-of-work agendas in Asia, Pacific and Arab States region for the next five years. Delegates elected Bahrain’s Minister of Labour and Social Development Jameel Humaidan as a Vice Chair.

Press release | 07 December 2016
ILO NEWS (Bali, Indonesia) – Indonesia’s Vice President Mohammad Jusuf Kalla and International Labour Organization (ILO) Director-General Guy Ryder opened the ILO’s 16TH Asia and the Pacific Regional Meeting (APRM) in Bali with a call for a greater emphasis on social justice in development.

The four-day meeting is discussing issues affecting employment and the world of work in the Asia, Pacific and Arab States region, which together account for 60 per cent of the global workforce.

“Of paramount importance is focusing on positive developments and working together to realize decent work, and meet the aspirations of workers and employers, who ultimately share similar needs and concerns,” the Vice President told delegates at the opening ceremony on 6 December.

The ILO is the United Nations specialized agency dealing with work-related issues. The APRM is being attended by more than 400 delegates – including 22 ministers – representing governments, workers’ and employers’ organizations from almost 40 countries.

Some 70 delegates are attending from the Arab States of the Gulf and Middle East, including four ministers from Bahrain, Oman, the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Qatar.

Delegates elected Indonesia’s Minister of Manpower Hanif Dhakiri to Chair the APRM. Bahrain’s Minister of Labour and Social Development Jameel Humaidan became the Vice Chair representing government delegates, Hariyandi Sukamdani of the Employers Association of Indonesia was elected as Vice Chair representing employers, and Secretary General of the Japanese Trade Union Federation Naoto Ohmi was elected Vice Chair for workers.

Speaking at the opening session, Director-General Guy Ryder reminded delegates of the need for “strong inclusive, balanced and sustained growth for the people of this region.” While remarkable progress had been made in raising incomes during the last decade, important challenges remained.

“The quality of everyday life cannot be fully captured just by macroeconomic aggregates and generalities,” he said. “It is striking that the region’s economic dynamism has not been fully translated into social progress.”

One in ten of the region’s workers still lives in extreme poverty, and more than a billion workers are in vulnerable employment, often without access to social and legal protection, while other groups – including youth, migrant workers, child and forced labourers, displaced people and women – were in particular danger of being excluded from progress.
“Together we need and must do more, better and faster. It is a question of economic prosperity just as much as of social justice.”

Looking to the future, he reminded delegate that progress made so far could only be equitable and lasting if built on strong, effective labour market institutions, and he called on them to strengthen social dialogue and collective bargaining and make progress in ratifying the ILO’s eight Fundamental Conventions, which provide “internationally accepted foundations for building sustainable, equitable, economic and social progress.”

“Asia and the Pacific has demonstrated its leadership in the world in so many areas – why not in labour standards and social dialogue too?”

Meeting sessions will look at policies and actions required to create better jobs, develop the workforce skills needed for economic development, and strengthen social dialogue so that it supports inclusive growth. There will also be discussions on labour migration and migrant recruitment, and the growth of Multinational Enterprises in the region.

Speaking at the opening session, ILO Regional Director for Arab States Ruba Jaradat told delegates: “Our Arab States region is one in which many countries are mired in conflict and war, and in which worker’s rights have been largely ignored. This meeting offers us a valuable opportunity to discuss how to put workers and labour issues at the heart of economic development and social progress.”

“It also offers a valuable opportunity to strengthen labour ties between the Arab States and the Asia and Pacific countries,” she said.

The last such regional meeting took place in Kyoto, Japan, in 2011.

The conclusions of the APRM will help to shape the national labour and employment policies of the ILO’s member States, as well as the ILO‘s work in the region.

The work of the APRM can be followed via the website ( or via Twitter (#ILOAPRM). All sessions are open to the media.

For more information please contact:

Sophy Fisher
Senior Communications Officer, ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok
T: +662 288 2482 / + 66 8989 50912

Salwa Kanaana,
Communications Officer, ILO Regional Office for the Arab States,
Tel: +961 (1) 752400 ext 117 / +961-71 505 958

Gita Lingga
Communications Officer, ILO Jakarta
Tel: +6221 391 3112 ext. 115 / +62815 884 5833

Jiraporn Wongpaithoon,
Communications Officer, ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok
Tel: +662 288 1664