Metalworkers’ unions from the Asia Pacific region discussed organizing, union building and improving minimum wages at a meeting aimed to strengthen unity between the unions under the banner of IndustriALL Global Union.
The metalworker unions were gathered together for the 6th Asian Metalworkers’ Liaison Conference (AMLC) on 22 to 23 April in Singapore to share their experiences and discus priority issues and union activities in the region.
Koichiro Nishihara, president of the Japanese Council of Metalworkers (JCM), executive committee member of IndustriALL Global Union and chairperson of IndustriALL in the Asia Pacific region, insisted that the metalworkers’ unions have an important role of extending solidarity using the platform of the newly created IndustriALL Global Union. The meeting then heard and discussed reports from the countries of the region, examining the priorities and challenges in each of the respective countries.
During a plenary discussion on organizing and union building in the region, all the participants agreed on the importance of active involvement by IndustriALL and its affiliates for supporting union building activities i Burma (Myanmar) in cooperation and coordination with the activities of other Global Union Federations and non-governmental organizations.
The meeting shared experiences of concrete actions on strengthening unity among unions at the national level, such as the historic two days general strike in India on 20 to 21 February and the regular meetings and efforts being made by the Japanese affiliates to develop a consensus based on the IndustriALL Action Plan and its future activities.
Improving minimum wages in many countries in Asia Pacific was also discussed. The past experiences of the Japanese affiliates suggests that a substantial improvement in minimum wages and standards of living requires a level playing field among countries in Asia so as to avoid the negative effects such as the transfer of employment to low wage countries.
In Thailand, TEAM has established a call center to provide advice on minimum wages when issues arise between labour and management and the union has been monitoring compliance with minimum wage requirements by the companies present in Thailand.
The AMLC, organized and sponsored by JCM, is not an IndustriALL decision-making body, however it plays an important role in building solidarity among metalworker unions in Asia Pacific and complements the regional activities of IndustriALL Global Union. The conference confirmed that AMLC will continue during the transitional period of IndustriALL until 2016. Meanwhile JCM will discuss the possibility of promoting joint meetings and cooperation with other Japanese affiliates (UA Zensen and IndustriALL JAF) who are conducting similar activities in Asia Pacific.
The next AMLC is scheduled to take place in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam in mid-April 2014.