Unions in Asia Pacific are stepping up efforts to organize workers
In the face of technological innovation and changing job descriptions, Singapore’s Advanced Manufacturing Employees’ Union has worked with its national center to lobby for reform of the country’s Industrial Relations Act to allow a limited number of employees to join the union.
“It is crucial to show that unions can offer benefits to employees. In Japan, for example, blue-collar and salaried union members can obtain low-interest loans from the labor bank set up by the unions. We need to make unions attractive to workers.”
said Yusuke Ishihara, deputy secretary-general of the Japan Council of Metalworkers.
In the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand, most employees are women. A lack of awareness of workers’ rights, limited legislation to organize platform workers, and increasing automation to monitor and control workers are among the challenges of employee organizing.
The participants agreed to reconsider organizing plans for employees. Issues affecting employees’ interests, such as long hours, mental health, the right to separation and telework benefits, should be emphasized in the organizing campaign.
The importance of collective bargaining in protecting employees’ rights and benefits needs to be emphasized when organizing.
“The core labor standards are a guide to realizing freedom of association and advocating labor law reform in the digital economy. Trade unionists need to take mental health and safety issues more seriously as this has long been neglected. We need to do that, make our unions more relevant to employees,”
said Christine Olivier, deputy general secretary of IndustriALL.
Corinne Schewin, from CFE-CGC and co-chair of the sector, spoke about problems faced by white-collar workers and the strategy to organize them in France.
“Changes in the industry are leading to increased job creation for white-collar workers. So we need to organize in each country to attract them and increase our membership.”
said Magnus Kjellsson, head of international affairs at Swedish union Unionen, on behalf of Martin Linder, the union’s president and co-president of the sector.
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