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Enhancing health and safety in rubber and tire sectors in Asia Pacific

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28 November, 2022Unions in Asia Pacific demand employers take steps to improve health and safety in rubber and tire sectors, putting workers' lives and interests first.

During the Asia Pacific rubber and tire union network meeting on 12-13 November in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, 20 unionists identified health and safety as a priority campaign issue that unions will coordinate on.

The IndustriALL Asia Pacific rubber and tire union network support the rights-based approach to safety. It seeks cooperation and improvements from employers on health and safety, including strengthened OHS committees.

Through two breakout workshop sessions, the network agreed that adequate safety training must be provided to all workers. Employers should send unionists to attend professional courses and obtain certificates at the company’s cost. OHS committee members must be qualified and competent in carrying their tasks.

While Malaysia’s NUECMRP urged employers to ensure proper labelling on chemical substance containers as precautionary steps to prevent injury or accident, Philippines’ PTGWO stressed the importance of inclusion of hazardous allowance in collective agreements.

Many raised the concern that rubber and tire workers might fall sick after years of working in hazardous working environments. They looked for good practice in Vietnam, which allows such workers to retire earlier at 53 to 55 years with lifelong retirement benefits.

“Rubber and tire workers must fight for decent working conditions. We call on employers to retain benefits provided to workers during the Covid-19 pandemic. We want the government to reform labour laws in accordance with international labour standards,”

said Saman Pornprachatham, president of the Rubber Workers Union Group of Thailand.

In the region, low automation or digitalization is observed. But unionists are planning ahead, suggesting unions to include new provisions such as reskilling, job transfer and layoff avoidance in collective agreements.

"Let's continue to build solidarity in the network to protect the rights and jobs of workers. Companies need to be aware that workers are the one who creates values and products, they deserve everything including living wage and a quality life,"

said Tom Grinter, IndustriALL director of rubber Industries.

The tire industry has significant production in the region, particularly Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam. IndustriALL affiliates are representing tens of thousands of workers including at the leading multinational companies. Indonesian unions formed a national tire industry forum and hold regular meetings to exchange information.

The regional union network meeting was attended by unionists from Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.