IUF Asia-Pacific unions give priority to the challenge of precarious employment

Delegates at the IUF Asia/Pacific Regional Conference resolved to increase support to campaigns in all IUF sectors, similar to past successes that led to permanent jobs, increased union membership and improved working conditions.

In one of the most inspiring and most representative IUF-Asia/Pacific Regional Conference ever, 68 delegates from 52 affiliated unions from 14 countries elected a Regional Committee for the next five years as well as a Women’s Committee. Charlie Donnelly was re-elected as Regional President and Ma Wei Pin was re-elected as Regional Secretary. Conference also endorsed the appointment of Hidayat Greenfield as Assistant Regional Secretary.

This Conference of delegates from unions representing food, farm, and hotel workers was also observed by 49 observers from 17 affiliated unions reflecting strong interest in the conference theme: “Strong Unions – Sustainable Economy – Secure Jobs”

In his address to the Regional Conference at the Opening Session, Charlie Donnelly, the incumbent Regional President said, “My union, NUW will be a hundred years old in 2012 and one of the very best decisions taken by my union was to join the IUF in the 1960s.” He further said, “ Whilst I hope my union education led a constructive role in assisting unions in the region through participating in IUF solidarity campaigns, we have gained a lot more than we have given, in terms of learning about educational activities, transnational companies, and international solidarity.” He was glad that the regional conference will focus on responding to the destruction of permanent jobs by companies which are replacing them with precarious employment.

Ron Oswald, IUF General Secretary, addressing the opening of the Regional Conference, acknowledged the presence of the Vice Governor of Bali, whose presence he said, signaled support for the emerging democracy in the country and this includes democracy at work where workers fight for rights and for a strong voice at work.

SBNIP President Eko Sumaryono
Eko Sumaryono, President of the Nestle Panjang Workers Union, thanked the delegates for their support in the campaign against union-busting by Nestle
In an emergency resolution on Nestle, all conference participants were informed of trade union rights violations at Nestle Panjang (Indonesia) and Nestle Kabirwala (Pakistan). Delegates called on affiliates to actively support the re-launched Nespressure campaign.

Daniel Urai, General Secretary of the National Union of Hospitality, Catering & Tourism Industries Employees (NUHCTIE)
Daniel Urai, General Secretary of the National Union of Hospitality, Catering & Tourism Industries Employees (NUHCTIE), reported on the brutal repression of trade unions by the military regime in Fiji
On Fiji, delegates in resolution noted that IUF Fiji affiliates together with the entire Fijian trade union movement are facing the most serious attack ever on their existence. They resolved to give full support to IUF Fiji affiliates and Fiji unions in defense of their rights and called on all affiliates to act immediately by mobilizing members to send a protest message to the Fiji government. IUF will co-operate with other parts of the global trade union movement in this campaign.

IUF A/P Women’s Conference
Delegates to the IUF A/P Women’s Conference discussed discrimination at work and submitted a resolution to the Regional Conference on taking union to action to promote equal rights, equal treatment, and equal opportunities
To increase women representation in the IUF-A/P Regional Organisation, delegates resolved to adopt the rule change as adopted by the 25th IUF Congress in 2007 and authorized the incoming Regional Committee to oversee the required changes in the IUF-A/P rules.

In resolutions, delegates unanimously affirmed support for more education and training programs for women workers (a point highlighted at the Women’s Conference held just prior to the Regional Conference) , called on affiliates to be pro-active in calling on governments to ratify and implement the ILO Convention 189 for Domestic Workers, affirmed support for HKCTU, and called on affiliates to escalate campaigns against the partial or gradual withdrawal of union recognition and dismantling of bargaining rights.

Delegates to the 12th IUF A/P Regional Conference
Delegates from 52 affiliated unions from 14 countries attended the conference along with 49 observers from 17 affiliated unions
Delegates also unanimously in resolution, called on affiliates to campaign for sustainable employment as an integral and part of sustainable tourism policies of government and employers, and called upon government and employers to recognise the vital contributions trade unions can make to improved safety and security at work and in promoting peace and genuine security through international solidarity.

Delegates noted the adoption by the UN Human Rights Council of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in June this year and revision to the OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises a month prior. Both developments strengthened union recognition and workers’ rights along the supply chains of transnational companies. It was resolved to use the new Guiding Principles and the OECD Revised Guidelines in organizing and campaigning for trade union rights.

In the resolution, delegates also reaffirmed that organizing across transnational companies (TNCs) operating in IUF sectors will continue to be a priority over the next five years and called on affiliates to be proactive in organizing in major TNCs.

Adding its voice to growing concern over the impact of climate change and the failure of governments to respond effectively, delegates called on affiliates to exchange information, research, and policy analysis to facilitate a trade union response through the IUF.

Among the delegates to the conference were :

Ghulam Mehboob, General Secretary of the P.C. Hotel Karachi who together with other co-workers had just been held innocent by the court of all false criminal charges and of being wrongfully dismissed. This came after a struggle of 10 years both in public and global campaigning as well as in the courts. He and his co-workers had been reinstated recently by court order but management has appealed the decision although payroll reinstatement is being implemented.
N Vasudevan, President of Hotel Employees Federation of India (HEFOI), expressed much appreciation for IUF’s work in India for, which the organizing of his national sectoral Federation is a good example. With this, he was confident that HEFOI would organize the millions of workers in the hotel, restaurant, catering and tourism sector in India in the coming years and take its pride of place alongside other unions in the IUF –A/P.
Daniel Urai, General Secretary of the Fiji Hotel workers union (also national President of FTUC) who is due to go on trial for alleged violation of the Emergency Regulation of the Fiji Military regime, merely for meeting with his members to discuss the collective bargaining agreement.
Guest address to the Regional Conference was given by Pun Tin Chi, Chairman, HKCTU, Elizabeth Tang, International Coordinator of the International Domestic Workers Network and Kristina Olsson, International Secretary, Kommunal Sweden.

On behalf of the IUF-A/P Regional Organisation, Regional Secretary Ma thanked Masanori Kon, IUF Vice-President, who announced he was stepping down all positions in the IUF and the IUF-JCC. He also delivered a tribute to Bala Tampoe who had served as general secretary of his union, CMU, Sri Lanka, since 1948 and who is a towering trade union leader in the region over many decades.

Regional Secretary Ma’s presentation on his “Reflections on Past and Future of IUF-A/P” (covering the period from Dec 1973) when he was first elected, was warmly received with a standing ovation.

He said: “ I have no doubt that my successor, the newly appointed Assistant Regional Secretary will bring the regional organization to the next level of development – further growing its membership, enhancing its outreach, organizing and campaigning effectiveness. ” He thanked all affiliates for their support over the years, saying, “It is indeed thanks to all members of IUF and your unstinting support that the regional organization has developed.”

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