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4 August, 2020Despite numerous challenges confronting young workers in South East Asia during Covid-19 pandemic, IndustriALL Global Union’s youth continues to highlight and amplify young workers’ voices in the region.
The common problems facing young unionists are factory closures, slow down of production, reduction in wages and benefits, and layoffs of workers, particularly temporary and contract workers.
While sharing with participants of the first IndustriALL’s South East Asia youth webinar on 27 July 2020, Jolame Vosa, organizer at National Union of Factory and Commercial Workers says :
“Some companies in Fiji have reduced workers’ hours of work and salaries, some intimidated workers that they cannot fulfil their contract obligation. Few companies closed down and led to layoffs of workers.”
Most of the 50 gender balanced webinar participants face a similar situation. The unionists were from Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Fiji and Mongolia.
Never giving up the fight, young unionists utilize collective bargaining process to protect workers’ rights and benefits.
Ega Rahayu and Agung, two young members of Federation of Indonesian Metal Workers' Union (FSPMI) says :
“Although Covid-19 has serious impact on our members, we negotiate with companies to protect workers’ rights and benefits through our unions. We use collective agreement as a basis of negotiation so that companies won’t cut workers’ benefits.”
Drawing the conclusion, IndustriALL regional secretary Annie Adviento says:
“Despite the difficulties and vulnerabilities being experienced during pandemic, IndustriALL youth is hoping for a brighter future and fighting the battle of decent work through their unions. The regional office pledges to amplify their voice and stand together with their struggles.”
As a result of Covid-19 pandemic, IndustriALL South East Asia decided to organize a series of youth webinars to replace the annual youth exchange forum. The thematic youth webinars cover topics such as communication, gender equality, organizing and the others.