AEPF says no to ‘outsourcing’ and short-term contracts

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A regional workshop held recently has come up with landmark recommendations to protect the employer-worker relationship from being undermined by labour outsourcing arrangements.

A workers' protest in Malaysia
A workers’ protest in Malaysia

What was interesting was the outcome of a workshop entitled ‘Combating Erosion of Worker and Trade Union Rights’, attended by close to a hundred participants, who at the end of the three- and-a-half hour programme on 18 October 2012 afternoon, came up with recommendations, all of which were discussed and adopted unanimously.

The call was for the abolition of outsourcing [i.e. the contractor for labour system], and short-term employment contract..

  • Regular employment with security of tenure until retirement
  • Two-party employment relationships between principals or owners of workplaces as employers, and workers that work in the said workplaces as employees of the said principals and owners.

Ninth Asia-Europe People’s Forum

“People’s Solidarity against Poverty and for Sustainable Development: Challenging Unjust and Unequal Development, Building States of Citizens for Citizens”

Vientiane, Laos, 16-19 October, 2012

Conclusions/recommendations from the participants of the ‘Combating erosion of worker and trade union rights’ workshop that took place at 2.00pm, 18 October 2012

A. Employment and employment relationship

  1. Ensure that workers have the right to regular employment with security of tenure until retirement.
  2. Abolish short-term or fixed duration employment contracts, and if still needed in exceptional situation, should be limited in its use.
  3. Ensure two-party employment relationships between principals or owners of workplaces as employers, and workers that work in the said workplaces as employees of the said principals and owners.
  4. Labour suppliers, contractors for labour or labour outsourcing companies should never be employers of workers.
  5. Abolish manpower/labour outsourcing and all forms of triangular employment relationships/ arrangements.
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B. Worker rights and access to justice

  1. Ensure that all worker rights are respected, including rights of access to avenues of justice, social security, healthcare, compliance with occupational health and safety standards and decent work.
  2. Migrant workers shall be allowed to work and stay legally until their complaints and claims are finally adjudicated and settled.
  3. All workers, irrespective of their nationality or legal status, shall have the right to labour rights, including a right to form and/or join trade unions and collective bargaining, consistent with the international core labour standards.

C. Recommendation about UN/regional standards and instruments

  1. In cases of rights abuse, human rights defenders, including CSR/TNC compliance monitoring bodies, should issue alerts, lobby companies and governments, raise awareness among the general population and support workers who want to fight for their rights.
  2. Trade unions and CSR/TNC monitoring bodies should inform the workers of codes of conduct of companies and their supply chain, as well as relevant government policies.
  3. Trade unions and CSR/TNC monitoring bodies should lobby the governments to ensure that trade agreements include guarantees for labour conditions and rights of workers
  4. CSOs in countries where the production is based and where the investment is coming from to strengthen their collaboration.
  5. Trade unions and CSR/ TNC monitoring bodies should connect workers and their representatives with the global movement, including AEPF.

D. Recommendation about trade unions

  1. When governments and/or ASEM have discussions/engagements with investors, trade unions must always be part of the process.
  2. Trade unions must be included in law and decision-making processes at the national, regional and international levels.
  3. Stronger collaboration between trade unions across sectors and regions is needed, and a strong transnational network of trade unions should be developed.
  4. Trade unions of countries of origin and destination countries of migrant workers shall collaborate to ensure protection of the rights of migrant workers. Portable trade union membership shall be promoted.
  5. Trade unions shall strengthen their role in monitoring labour law enforcement and CSR compliance.
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This workshop was organised by Workers Hub For Change (WH4C), Network of Action for Migrants in Malaysia (NAMM), MAP Foundation, Mekong Migration Network (MMN), Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC), Good Electronics Network and Asia Pacific Forum On Women Law and Development (APWLD)

The recommendations/position of this workshop was included in the Final Statement of AEPF, that has been handed over to the relevant Minister of Laos, who has given his assurance that this statement will be handed over and hopefully considered by the leaders of the European and Asian nations that will be meeting in a few days time.

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