Report from Asia-Pacific Regional Conference of the World Federation of Trade Unions

23 OCT , Kathmandu , Two days session of the Asia-Pacific Regional Conference of the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) held in Kathmandu (Nepal) on the 24th and 25th September 2019, having been participated by the class based trade union leaders belonging to WFTU from different Asian countries, viz. India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Iran, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, DPRK Korea, South Korea, besides WFTU Headquarters from Athens and other functionaries of the world forum in the region and leaders of a number of sectorial federations/Trade Union International (TUIs).

Having analysed the Asian countries as well as the world economic crisis and their adverse impacts on the people in general and working class in particular on their economic, social and political rights, amongst others, taking into meaningful and purposeful consideration of the multifarious conclusions of the WFTU in particular, the 17th International Congress of WFTU held in Durban (South Africa) and having resolved to carry on the call of “Durban Declaration”, noting with serious concern the struggles and agitations of the working class, both organised as well as unorganized/informal, in the Region against the onslaughts of the capitalists, MNCs and most government policies in tune with the Neo-liberal globalization dictated policies that continue to cause wide gap between the haves and have-nots, understanding the appalling conditions relating to the basic needs of the people, social security/social protection, unemployment and under-employment, declining of collective bargaining process in many Asian countries, as in some other parts of the world also, beholding the violations of human rights and fundamental rights in general and that of the working class in particular on issues such as Right to Unionization (registration and recognition), right to livelihood, denial of equal wage and equal service conditions even to those performing same and similar nature of jobs, rapid increase of atypical forms employments such as casual, contract, bad lies etc degrading conditions of Safety, Health and Environment (SHE) resulting in avoidable accidents and deaths.

Observing also the many progressive measures having been achieved by the working class in China, Vietnam, and Nepal and in some pockets in the Region.

Notes that there are several important issues of common concern in the Asia-Pacific Region, which were duly expressed by the respective delegates in the Conference.

This Conference of the Asia-Pacific Region of WFTU notes with serious concern and condemns the continued military interventions of the imperialist forces in particular, USA, NATO and other allies attempting to cause destabilization in the countries of Middle East, Latin America and in the Asian Continent and hereby extend fullest solidarity to the struggles of the people for deciding their own future, extends unflinching support to the people of Cuba, Syria, Palestine, DPR Korea, Iran amongst others who struggle and task towards their unfettered rights.

During the two days deliberations, the APR Conference of WFTU considered the cause and effects of the common issues, some of which are enumerated below:

  1. Unemployment/underemployment, unequal development, unjust social order, job crisis leading to social recessions, lay off, closures, retrenchments, demand for 35 hours work week, better pensionary benefits, etc.
  2. Government policies based on New-Liberalism “Commandments” of Structural Adjustment programme imposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (WB), Asian Development Bank (ADB) and their impact on working class world over, in particular in the Asian Region.
  3. Monopolization of Global Systems: (1) Technological monopoly, (2) Monopolistic financial markets, (3) Monopolistic access to the region’s natural resources, (4) Media and Communication monopoly, (5) Monopoly over weapons.
  4. Role/Domination of Multinational Corporations (MNCs or TNCs) and their direct and implied effects on domestic economy/national budgets in the Region, which are altered to the benefits of the ruling classes.
  5. The deliberate decline of state owned enterprises/public sector and public services including public sector Banks and financial institutions makes closures and mergers of Banks and the free run of privatization of public goods and services.
  6. So-called labor-reforms carried out by the national governments, restricting/restraining Trade Unions/Working class movement in many countries of the Region (recently in India “Fixed Term Employment” is an amendment brought by the Government, giving room for abolition of future permanent employment).
  7. Biased and unhelpful role of judiciary and law making bodies in some countries and their adverse impact on working class/Trade Unions.
  8. Governance issues such as (a) Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), (b) capital-friendly policies of the state, (c) atypical forms of employment (Casual, Contract, Outsourcing, etc), (d) dilution of collective bargaining process amongst others, despite several decisions of the highest judiciary in some of these countries contrary to such practices.
  9. SHE (Safety, Health, and Environment) issues, including prevention of OCC diseases and accidents, inadequate compensation systems etc.
  10. Migrant workers – their livelihood issues and organisational problems, in the sending as well as the receiving countries. Trade Union Education and Orientation/re-orientation of cadres of WFTU in the Region.
  11. Women workers, Young workers – Problems, organisation and protect action for protection against the denial of rights and rightful privileges, etc.
  12. Region wide organisation of certain sectoral workers such as Textile, Garment and allied industry workers, Estate/Forest Workers, etc, amongst the unorganized sections of workers.
  13. The imperative need for unity and united actions, solidarity struggles, within the countries and regionally, besides International Solidarity Actions.

This APR Conference while unanimously adopting this historic document, known as “Kathmandu Declaration” declares that the challenges before the working class of the Region will be met by collective, united actions, unit/industry-wide, nationwide and Region-wide depending upon the urgency, priority and practicality. In this connection, the following ACTION PROGRAMMES are hereby declared:

  1. Observation of International Working Class Day (May Day), WFTU Day (3rd October), this year against Racism, Xenophobia, Neofacism International Women’s Day (8th March, Minimum Remuneration Day (………………..), Day of Action for Basic Needs, viz. Shelter, Health, Water, Education, Social Security (……………….) on a grand scale involving the mass of workers in each country in the Region preparations and presentation of common charters of demands by the WFTU affiliates on a particular day in each country in the Asian Region, ILO conventions to be ratified and implemented.
  2. Campaign and mobilization against the increasing trend of atypical forms of employment (such as casual, contract, outsourcing, etc) including other precarious forms of working and the supply chains of MNCs/TNCs using these systems
  3. Formation of Asian Women Workers Forum and sustained campaigns on their specific demands; Forum for domestic workers in the region and fight for their cause at the national as well as regional levels.
  4. Training Programme in each country should be conducted at different Level, Utilizing the WFTU syllables as Education of cadres. Formation and activation of platform of young workers on their related issues and demands through campaigns, workshops, orientation programmes, etc.
  5. WFTU- Trade Union International (TUIs) should be formed in new sectors in each country, should be Regular meeting and strengthen.
  6. Campaign against nuclear arms and armed race and towards huge military expenses which should otherwise used for constructive developmental programmes.
  7. Campaign against embargo on Cuba and closing down of US prison in Guantanamo Bay and handing over of the land to Cuba.
  8. Solidarity with Syria, Palestine and the attack on Iran and DPRK by US imperialists and allies. The Conference notes that the Regional Monitoring Sub-committee to carry on the activities of APRO, has met once in Sri Lanka and this Committee should again meet to monitor the programmes of action, besides the organisation of 75th Anniversary of WFTU. It is agreed this event should take place in Bangladesh.

The Conference exhorts the working class of Asia-Pacific Region to carry on the tasks outlined in the Kathmandu Conclusions is an unprecedented manner, with full of vigor, determination and optimism to evolve a better world sans exploitation, repression or suppression of any kind, therefore to attain the rightful needs of the working class and their demands. In this convention Exhorts urge upon all affiliates unions to pay their dues fees to WFTU centre as well as the regional office as decided and declare by the WFTU presidential council meeting.

The Conference notes with great satisfaction that the Coordination Committee of WFTU Unions in Nepal have conducted the programme of this Conference in a befitting manner and hereby place on record our fullest appreciation and solidarity.