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IndustriALL’s Asia-Pacific affiliates meet in Kuala Lumpur

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7 November, 2023IndustriALL’s proposed gender-based violence policy, cost of living crises, trade union violations and Just Transition were some of the agenda items debated at IndustriALL’s Asia Pacific women’s committee and executive committee meetings held in Kuala Lumpur on 30 and 31 October, respectively.

In her opening remarks, at the women’s committee, IndustriALL assistant general secretary, Christina Olivier, said:

“At this juncture when there are wars raging in Ukraine and Palestine, it is extremely important that the international community, particularly the international trade union movement, stands united for peace and justice. We need a trade union that is shaped by feminism so that equality, inclusiveness, and democracy can be achieved.” 

Committee members strategized on possible ways to build a bottom-up approach to inform the work of the women’s committee. Women leaders stressed that there should be an efficient flow of information from global level to plant level and vice versa. Affiliates’ leaders should ensure that the discussions and information of these meetings reach all women activists of the union. The committee also extensively deliberated IndustriALL’s proposed global policy on gender-based violence and harassment, sexism, and misogyny. 

Nazma Akter replaced Kalpona Akter as the new co-chair of the committee.

In the regional executive meeting Akira Takakura, IndustriALL’s vice president, said:

“We need to bolster our efforts in the face of undermining of basic human rights. There is a military regime in Myanmar, trade union rights are being violated in Bangladesh and Philippines. There are anti-worker labour law reforms happening in India and Indonesia. There is an ongoing war in Ukraine and Palestine. We cannot tolerate this.” 

Executive committee members extensively examined the impact of the rising cost of living and the ongoing wars in Ukraine and Palestine. The situation of workers and trade union rights in Myanmar, Sri Lanka, South Korea, and Indonesia also made the agenda. Affiliates’ leaders from these countries reported that anti-worker labour law reforms and growing attacks on trade unions have worsened workers’ working and living conditions. 

Executive committee members sent out a solidarity message to trade unions in Bangladesh who are currently facing state repression for raising demands for a higher minimum wage, where a worker was killed while another was injured in police shooting and trade union organisers have also been imprisoned for carrying out protest demonstrations.

While giving updates on IndustriALL’s work, IndustriALL’s assistant general secretary, Kemal Özkan, emphazised the organisation’s advocacy work particularly debates on economic transformation at the International Labour Conference and labour issues at COP28. He also mentioned the meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank which focused on debt in the global south.  

Nazma Akter gave a brief report of the AP women’s committee meeting and the executive committee declared that there must be women’s committees across all IndustriALL structures, including different sectors.

Sharing conclusions of IndustriALL’s mid-term conference, held earlier this year, Kemal Özkan mentioned that the conclusions’ document is a strategic document which will guide the organization until the next Congress in 2025. Executive committee members stressed that we continue to engage on the issues of precarious work and industrial safety. Committee members believe that there is a great need to engage with government on Just Transition and without a country level policy, workers’ future will become dependent on the good will of individual companies.

Affiliates’ leaders also stressed on continuing the work around Global Framework Agreements and their implementation along with prioritizing strategic organizing work in the wind sector which currently has more than 90 per cent of the manufacturing workforce non-unionized. 

Kemal Özkan said:

“There are over two billion precarious workers across the globe and IndustriALL’s strategy will continue to focus on actions around precarious work. There has been a deterioration of workers’ fundamental rights across the region and IndustriALL will continue to campaign for advancing workers’ rights whether in the context of occupational health and safety or a worker centric Just Transition.” 

AP executive committee members support the candidature of Akihiro Kaneko as the new vice president and new co-chair of the AP region following Akira Takakura’s retirement. The global executive committee will be informed of this endorsement.