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Negotiating safety and health in Asia Pacific's rubber sector

27 August, 2020IndustriALL Global Union’s Asia Pacific rubber sector affiliates have constantly negotiated with employers to implement safety and health measures during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Periodic dialogues have been held between the regional rubber unions and the management to discuss the supply of personal protective equipment, relevant regulations imposed by the government and the concerns of workers.

Darius Guerrero, director for international affairs of Philippine trade and general workers organization says:

“Rubber unions in the Philippines have had regular meetings with employers during the pandemic. Our affiliates have shared ideas on how to improve safety and health measures at workplaces. We have negotiated for flexible arrangements to avoid lay-offs.”

Saman Pornprachathum, president of Rubber workers' union group of Thailand (RWUT-CILT) adds:

"Thai rubber companies and unions are cooperating to reduce the impact of Covid-19 on workers. For example, we distribute face masks and hand sanitizers to workers and nearby communities. Since the companies suspended overtime and several benefits, companies allow workers to sell their own merchandizers at the company premise to increase their income."

They shared the views at IndustriALL’s Asia Pacific Rubber sector union network meeting on 20 August. Approximately 75 participants from Indonesia, Japan, Philippines and Thailand attended the virtual meeting. Among them 50 participants were physically present in meeting rooms in Bangkok and Jakarta.

Apart from the impact of pandemic, participants provided latest update on rubber workers’ struggles in each country. The number of workers sacked by Goodyear in Bogor has been reduced from 52 to 44. The participants also expressed concerns over dismissal of a rubber unionist at Silverstone in Malaysia.

Tom Grinter, IndustriALL director of pulp and paper, rubber industries says:

“The plunging demand in the aeronautical and automotive industries has adversely impacted the rubber industry. Rubber workers must remain united to protect their rights and benefits in the uncertain future.”

“We will continue to fight unfair dismissals and anti-union discrimination in the region. Let’s utilize this trade union network and plan more campaigns to confront global capital.”