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Rights at Work and Social Dialogue in Asia and the Pacific

Rights at Work and Social Dialogue in Asia and the Pacific


Labour is not a commodity. Workers and employers are in fact the most
precious asset of growing economies, prosperous societies and stable political
systems. We protect this asset globally by upholding
fundamental rights and enabling workers to collectively engage
with governments and employers in a process of “social dialogue.” But inequalities in both Asia-Pacific and
the Arab States are widespread – especially relating to women, migrant workers
and people with disabilities. In many countries, child labour persists. Even in the formal economy labour standards
are often not enforced. In fact, most member States in Asia and the
Pacific have yet to ratify the Convention on Freedom of Association – one
of the ILO’s core Conventions. These challenges and the labour disputes to
which they increasingly give rise can be overcome. But Asia and the Pacific will need to step
up its investment in mechanisms for social dialogue and collective bargaining. That means a stronger voice for employers
and workers. Through the joint efforts of the ILO, its
partners and constituents, the Better Factories Programme in Cambodia
is improving the working conditions in the country’s garment factories. Targets for improved working conditions are
coupled with productivity gains. Systematic worker-employer dialogue keeps
things on track.
“With the help of the ILO’s better factories
Cambodia programme, we now pay more attention to human rights,
medical treatment, hygiene and security. The working conditions for workers at our
factory. The ILO has helped us to build a stable environment. We work as a team and all the team members
work hard at this factory. Managers, supervisors, employees and the unions
are getting closer and working more harmoniously” Our standard of living is very much connected
to our income. And so negotiated wage policies and employment
contracts are key to formally recognizing the economic value of people’s work. In 2007, China passed a labour contract law
formalizing the employment of tens of millions of rural migrant workers, providing them with
basic income protection. Working together this region can further improve
its productivity and competitiveness in a way that will benefit
many more people and protect their rights. There is already momentum to achieve this. Young people are speaking out, demanding their
right to decent work and policy makers are responding. Domestic workers now have a global standard
that recognizes their services as work. And many factory workers and their employers
are now solving disputes through dialogue. Further strengthening these approaches will
lead this region toward a fairer, sustainable and more prosperous future.

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