Asia Pacific Forum on trade union rights: It is time for Action Now!
The Asia Pacific Regional Forum on Trade Union rights will come up with an Action Plan for the region for 2015. PSI affiliate leaders will share experience on campaigns for freedom of association, collective bargaining and the right to strike. Special attention will be devoted to the impact of privatisation and precarious forms of employment in the public sector, fire-fighters’ right to organise and campaigning for the ratification and implementation of international labour standards.
PSI General Secretary Rosa Pavanelli will join PSI’s affiliate leaders and regional staff at the Forum, to meet with South Korean officials and speak at the “1 Million Civil Servant and Teachers National Rally against the Weakening of the Pension System”, organised by the KGEU and Korean Teachers and Education Workers Union (KTU) on 1 November.
Three main violations of trade union rights emerge as specific to the public sector and are observable across a number of countries in Asia. These are: bans on public sector organising; refusal to engage in bargaining with public sector unions (either by unilateral wage-setting, or by restricting the capacity of unions to engage in bargaining); and denial of the right to strike in the public sector (which is achieved either by a blanket ban on the sector, or by the setting of high ballot thresholds, and other procedural hurdles, or by the application of essential services restrictions to a broad swathe of public sector workers).
Privatisation is taking place across the region. The process is hugely disruptive to industrial relations, and has variously stripped unions of either or both bargaining rights and membership levels, both of which significantly downgrade union power. The Asian Development Bank has a nominal commitment to core labour standards, but union research shows that it has failed to guarantee these rights in important privatisation processes it has overseen.
Liberalisation and casualisation have fed the rise of large numbers of workers within new entities formed without a union presence. These workers enjoy little security, face serious barriers to unionisation, and place downward pressure on the sector. Downgrading bargaining levels and weakening employment protection and job security has significantly impacted upon union power.
The promotion of performance-related reward models also operates as a disincentive to collective worker organisation. The two-tier workforce complicates the bargaining process and further weakens collective identities and overall bargaining power