As the ASEAN Economic Community is set to be launched by end of 2015, Thailand is seeking to create a common set of labor standards for all workers of the 10 member-countries, InterAksyon.com learned.
By: Veronica Uy, InterAksyon.com
February 8, 2015 12:56 PM
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MANILA – As the ASEAN Economic Community is set to be launched by end of 2015, Thailand is seeking to create a common set of labor standards for all workers of the 10 member-countries, InterAksyon.com learned.
Christopher Ng, regional secretary of Uni Asia & Pacific, a federation of labor unions in the region, said Thailand had invited him and leaders of other workers’ groups as well as academicians, and human rights and labor officials of the region to a meeting in Bangkok last December 12 to jump-start the process.
“Thailand hosted a regional consultation for a law reform for the protection of (ASEAN) workers. The contents of the proposed law include acceptable standards – core labor standards specified by ILO – and mechanisms and (the creation of a) commission at the ASEAN level,” he said.
A representative of the International Labor Organization, and members of the ASEAN Inter-governmental Council on Human Rights (AICHR) and of the human rights bodies of ASEAN member-countries were also invited to the regional consultation, Ng said.
“I was a little bit shocked (when I heard about their plan). When I asked them why (they wanted this), they said it was to level the playing field,” he said.
Ng said he was still skeptical about the idea until a second consultation meeting was scheduled, this time on February 16.
“I thought it was going to be a one-time event, and they would eventually be under pressure to shut down (the plan),” he said.
Ng said this is an opportunity to inject a social dimension to the ASEAN economic integration.
Workers’ groups throughout the region should focus on ensuring its implementation.
The plan, he said, is to present a draft to the ASEAN Summit in April.
“I have no illusions that the plan would be perfect, but even if workers get the minimum of protection, it would be better than nothing. This would be hard work, but it is a worthwhile venture,” Ng said.
“Without a social dimension, the AEC (ASEAN Economic Community) is nothing,” he added.
ASEAN groups together Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.