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Asia-Pacific conference highlights struggles and women’s representation

22.05.2014

IndustriALL Global Union’s regional Asia-Pacific conference expresses support for struggles in Bangladesh, Cambodia, South Korea and Sri Lanka, and endorses proposal to increase women’s representation to minimum 40 per cent in global leadership and Executive Committee.

IndustriALL Global Union’s first ever statutory regional Asia-Pacific conference gathered 230 participants to Bangkok, Thailand on 15-16 May 2014. More than 80 women attended the regional women’s conference the day earlier.

The delegates debated the goals and strategies of IndustriALL and adopted the Bangkok Declaration that confirms the commitment of unions to focus on a number of priority actions:

1. Build union power and expand organizing efforts

2. Respond to multinational companies, including through strengthening our GFA capacity, union networks and our capacity for joint action

3. Advocate worker rights

4. Fight against precarious work

5. Ensure employment related to sustainable industry

6. Strengthen the leadership and participation of women

7. Ensure that the structures of IndustriALL are truly representative of the diversity of our unions and regions.

The conference condemned the persecution and imprisonment of trade union and democracy activists in several Asia-Pacific countries. Delegates promised to stand with the Cambodian garment unions in their struggle for a living wage and the right to organize. They condemned companies such as Ansell in Sri Lanka and Samsung in Korea which resist organizing and collective bargaining, pay low wages and fail to provide safe and healthy working conditions.

The plenary adopted a resolution proposed by the regional women’s conference, calling on IndustriALL to amend its statutes to set a quota of a minimum 40 per cent women's representation at all levels of IndustriALL, including the leadership, executive committee, union building projects and other activities. The sectors need to have two co-presidents, a man and a woman.

The conference paused to remember workers who have lost their lives in industrial homicides such as Rana Plaza in Bangladesh and at the Soma Mine in Turkey. The delegates urged the clothing brands to take responsibility for the workers’ conditions in their supply chains and consequences of their actions, contributing to the Rana Plaza Trust Fund to ensure full compensation funds for victims of killed and injured workers.

IndustriALL was requested to cooperate with the ITUC in taking a strong union position on the ASEAN Economic Community, free trade agreements and bilateral arrangements, to ensure inclusion of workers’ rights and reject investment protection clauses.

The conference was opened by Yongyuth Mentapao on behalf of the Thai affiliates regrouped in Confederation of Industrial Labour of Thailand (CILT), Koichiro Nishihara, President of JCM of Japan and IndustriALL’s regional chairperson and Yoshiteru Uramoto, Regional Director of ILO’s Regional Office in Bangkok.