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Monday, June 13, 2011

Survey: More anti-union repression in Asia

A global survey revealed the increasing trend of anti-union repression in Asia-Pacific, according to the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).
The 2011 annual survey of violations of trade union rights in the world has shown anti-union repression increases in Asia-Pacific. Thailand was also mentioned in the survey that "Employers display an openly anti-union attitude while the government goes as far as providing training on trade union surveillance," according to the survey released this morning worldwide.
On Thailand scenario, the survey concluded that "the legal framework is not conducive to trade union activities. Union members suffered discrimination due to their union activities, and there were overt indications that the government would support employers over workers in labour disputes. Employers remained fiercely anti-union. Government attacks on migrant workers continued."
The ITUC survey revealed that throughout 2010, employers and leaders in the Asia-Pacific region have chosen violence and the repression of trade union demands for social dialogue.
More than 1,000 Asian trade unionists were injured and almost as many were arrested. There was an increase over 2009 in the number of labour activists murdered (12 in 2010, as opposed to 10 in 2009) as well as in the number of death threats directed against trade unionists.
Last year was a particularly harsh year in Bangladesh as six workers' rights activists were killed at the hands of the police and of company thugs and scores were injured when the police broke the strikes.
As in previous years, the Philippines was one of the countries where the violence was most deadly. Three Filipino trade union leaders were murdered in 2010.
In India, the police killed two workers as they demonstrated against the death of a colleague.
In Pakistan, a trade union leader from the garment sector and another trade union activist were murdered in the trade union premises immediately before the beginning of strike action.
In the majority of Asian countries, unionists and workers' rights activists were arrested, often for taking part in protests and strikes. Of the approximately 900 arrests in the region in 2010, India accounted for more than half.
In Vietnam three labour activists were arrested for distributing anti-government leaflets and organising strikes and were sentenced to between seven and nine years in prison. Many arrests also took place in Bangladesh, South Korea and Pakistan.
The ITUC Annual Survey also denounced employers and authorities use of thugs to attack trade union leaders or activists. In addition to Bangladesh and China, this was notably the case in India and the Philippines.
Anti-union repression often results in the dismissal of workers who were active in the defence of their rights. In Cambodia, 817 workers from the clothing sector were fired or suspended following a national strike in September.
In Thailand, the ITUC cited certain dispute cases between employers and union members including Auto Alliance (Thailand), Michelin, Tycoons, and Hicom Automotive Plastics.
The survey also referred to the government’s negligence over labour committee recommendations, particularly Transport Minister Sohpon Zarum's rejection against the State Enterprise Labour Relations Committee’s (SELRC) order to reinstate six former State Railway of Thailand (SRT) employees, saying the SRT should better appeal to Labour Court.
The survey also mentioned a month-long detention last year of former International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions (ICEM) leader and human rights activist Somyot Pruksakasemsuk.
Another widespread tendency in the Asia-Pacific region was the increasing use of temporary contracts, e.g. in Cambodia, South Korea or New Zealand.
The ITUC survey decried many cases of harassment, threats and discrimination against workers who were members of independent trade unions such as in South Korea and Thailand.
The Survey also showed that the setting up of "yellow trade unions" was one of the techniques most frequently employed in Asia to weaken independent trade unions. This is particularly the case in Cambodia, South Korea, Indonesia and the Philippines.
Certain Asian countries like North Korea and Burma continued to ban in practice all independent trade union activity. In China, Laos and Vietnam, the law provided for a single trade union system.
The ITUC survey also revealed that despite prison sentences for any attempt to form an independent trade union, more and more trade unions were being set up at company level in China.
The number of strikes also continued to increase in China in 2010, particularly in private companies, despite brutal police repression or the use of "hired muscle".
Source :Bangkok Post,  08.06.2011

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