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Building stronger unions in Asia Pacific through collective struggle

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7 June, 2023IndustriALL Global Union Asia Pacific executive committee urges affiliates in the region to build stronger unions through collective efforts.

During a virtual meeting on 23 May, the co-chair of IndustriALL’s Asia Pacific executive committee, Akira Takakura, stressed that unions must take a firm stand against union busting, infringement of the right to collective bargaining, regressive labour law reform and the prosecution against trade unionists.

“Trade unions must show solidarity with other unions who are struggling. We will continue to support the fight for democracy in Myanmar and Ukraine, the struggle against the Omnibus law in Indonesia, and the economic crisis in Sri Lanka.”

Attending the executive committee meeting, the president of Confederation of Trade Unions of Myanmar (CTUM), Maung Maung, said that the repression against unions continues. Maung Maung is declared a non-citizen by the military regime, his passport is not valid and there is an arrest warrant against him. Despite bombings by the military, strikes and demonstrations still continue across the country.

Maung Maung shared that international solidarity is working and is putting pressure on the military at international forums like the United Nations and ILO. Trade unionists in Asia Pacific should tell their governments that the power base of the military regime is fragile, and if their governments refuse to support the regime, the people and workers of Myanmar will win. CTUM vows to work together with Ukraine in their fight against dictatorship.

The executive committee members discussed the economic crisis in Sri Lanka. With an inflation rate of 97 per cent, employers are asking workers to work four days per week, 12 hours a day, and women are asked to work at night. IndustriALL affiliates have been excluded from the National Labour Advisory Council.

Two positive developments in India are motivating unionists. After several nation-wide strikes, the Central Labour Minister in India has begun listening to trade unions on regressive labour law reform. The Indian National Mineworkers' Federation reported the collective struggle at a mine site achieved substantial increase of wages. An out-of-court settlement between the union and the employer was recently signed.

"The world is burning and workers' rights are under attack. Trade unions must join hands to restore democratic rule and to stop regressive labour law reforms and a deterioration of working conditions, like increasing working hours in factories and unsafe practices at mine sites,"

said Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL assistant general secretary.