1 Public Services International (PSI) South East Asia Sub-regional Organisation c/o Wisma AUPE, 295 Upper Paya Lebar Road, Singapore 534929 Tel: 65-63800 858 (firstname.lastname@example.org) ITC-ILO COURSE A3-00220 SECTORAL WORKERS’ EDUCATION PROGRAMME with a special focus on BUILDING GLOBAL SOLIDARITY NETWORKS Turin, Italy 11 to15 October 2004 (1) HISTORY & REGIONAL STRUCTURE OF PSI PSI is an umbrella organisation for 639 public sector unions (as at Jun 2004). It works in cooperation with the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) and the General Conference of the Global Union Federations (GUFs). Founded in 1907, PSI has organised 20 million members in 150 countries from organisations consisting of personnel employed in national, regional and local government; undertakings engaged in the production and supply of gas, electricity and water; waste removal, processing and recycling services; health, environmental and social services; educational, cultural and recreational services; construction and maintenance of roads and buildings; and other bodies whose function is to provide services to the public. PSI is governed by its five-yearly congress, which is participated by delegates from all PSI affiliates. The congress adopts policy documents, resolutions, statements and the programme of action that form the basis of PSI policy. At the same time, it elects the President, General Secretary, the Executive Board and the Members’ Auditors. The Executive Board (EB) represents the four geographical regions, namely Africa and Arab countries, Asia and the Pacific, Europe and the Inter-America. In the Asia Pacific Region, it is subdivided into East Asia, South Asia, South East Asia and Oceania. Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand constitute the South East Asia Sub-region. Please refer to the diagram in attached Annex 1. Besides the PSI Executive Board, high level involvement includes the formation of the Steering Committee, comprising the President and Vice-Presidents, the General Secretary, Deputy and 2 Assistant General Secretaries, and Chairperson of the Women’s Committee. It would review the current policies and programmes of PSI and put up proposals or make recommendations to the Executive Board for further deliberations and approval. The PSI World Women’s Committee is a very important one, which advises the Executive Board on the concerns and issues for female workers in the public services. These include the development of women leadership in the trade unions and workplaces and equitable recognition of women’s contributions in unions as well as public sector employment. (2) MAJOR LABOUR ISSUES IN ASIA PACIFIC – IMPACT OF GLOBALIZATION Globalisation is a complex process that directly affects economic growth and influencing the labour standards, hence demanding higher skills development and labour productivity. However during its course, it has increased the economic instability, causing erratic economic shocks and widening gaps between the rich and the poor, especially in the Asian countries; for example Indonesia. In 1998, at the end of Soeharto’s rule, the country was winding its way towards democratic capitalist modernity. Since then more unions are sprouting especially when they had ratified one of the core ILO labour Conventions, c 87 Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention on 9 June 1998. This was followed by the ratification of three other core conventions c 105 Abolition of Forced labour Convention, c 111 Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention and c 138 Minimum (Commerce and Offices) Convention on 7 June 1999 and then c 182 Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention on 28 Mar 2000. The other three core conventions had earlier been ratified; on 12 June 1950, c 29 Forced Labour Convention, on 15 July 1957 c 98 Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention and on 11 Aug 1958 c 100 Equal Remuneration Convention. Although all the fundamental conventions had been ratified, the forces of the democracy in Indonesia continue to face significant obstacles to social and economic progress. This reformation requires a very delicate balance to build trust, co-operation and assurance internally and externally, so that these ratification and compliance actually benefited the country. Then the country is able to reap the benefits of economic integration and from the global markets. The following examples are the recent complaints PSI submitted to the Committee of Freedom of Association and their follow-ups: 3 Bangladesh (Case No 2188) The President of the Bangladesh Diploma Nurses Association, and 10 other members have been subjected to harassment and the President has been dismissed on the account of their trade union activities. India (Observation) PSI raised some serious concerns on allegations of anti-union discrimination in the context of a collective dispute in the public sector in Tamil Nadu State and there were arbitrary arrests and dismissals of thousands of trade union leaders and members from the Tamil Nadu Government Official Union. Pakistan (Case No 2229) PSI, Pakistan National Federation of Trade Unions (PNFTU), the All Pakistan Federation of Trade Unions (APFTU), ICFTU and International Transport workers Federation (ITF), allege the adoption of legislation (to impose a revised industrial relations ordinance) contrary to freedom of association. Republic of Korea (Case No 1865) The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) initiated the complaint of violation of right to bargain collectively, arrest and detention of trade union leaders and members; against the Government of the Republic of Korea, in 2001. Japan (Case No 2177) The Japanese Trade Union Confederation (JTUC-RENGO), the RENGO Public Sector Liaison Council (RENGO-PSLC), the ICFTU, PSI, ITF, the International Federation of Building and Wood Workers (IFBWW), Education International (EI), the International Federation of Employees in Public Services (INFEDOP) and Union Network International (UNI) allege that the upcoming reform of the public service legislation, developed without proper consultation of workers’ organisations, further aggravates the existing public service legislation and maintains the restrictions on the basic trade union rights of public employees, without adequate compensation. 4 Thailand (Case No 2181) The revocation of Bangchak Petroleum Public Co Lte Employees’ Union (BCPEU) was announced by the Registrar as a result of a change of status, from public to private company. PSI complained against the Thai Government for contravention of the principle of freedom of association. (3a) USE/AVAILABILITY OF TU NETWORKS The violation of trade union rights is accelerating in the Asia Pacific region, especially after the financial crisis when the various governments are pursuing budget cuts, sort to privatisation strategies and restricting the capacities of unions. This triggered the collaboration between the 2 main public global trade unions, EI and PSI, to set up a Trade Union Rights Network (TURN) and strengthen the connection of the unions from both GUFs within South East Asia and then extending to Asia Pacific region. The PSI-EI affiliates of Philippines successfully launched the TURN website on 21 December 2003, which is a testimony to the commitment of the leaders to serve and sustain the linkage effectively. This campaign is the beginning of the challenges ahead. (3b) COMMUNICATION PATTERNS Through the establishment of the organisational committees of PSI (as seen in Annex 1), PSI is able to communicate with the affiliates. The regional and the sub-regional secretariats are well regarded as the catalyst in helping to smoothen the communication flow in the organisations of the trade unions and the management of resources. The PSI Website has recently been redesigned to facilitate networking with the unions and serves as a hub for the organisation. It enhances the support for the regional structures by providing on- line services and allowing affiliates to contribute their articles or to share their views. With the aid of technology, many correspondences are shifting from the conventional mailing or facsimile 5 system to electronic system. Although there is an increase in this trend, most of the affiliates are put down by it for various reasons, mainly unavailability of means, lack of training and most of the leaders are holding full time jobs. (4) COMMUNICATION PATTERN BETWEEN GUFS IN ASIA AND PACIFIC Similarly, in July this year, a trade union training course was organised for the GUFs in this region with an aim to build up a regional network. The participants were committed to form a regional network of ILS monitors through online conferencing and gained free access to emailing system. However, during these three months, the progress seems rather pessimistic as the participants are losing touch with each other and are not finding the networking beneficial to them. The on-going communication between the GUFs is basically taking place at events organised by the ICFTU-APRO and sponsor organisations. There is no formal permanent structure, but informally contacts are maintained with the other global unions that have offices in the region, and some cooperation also takes place on concrete issues.
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