Asia-Pacific unions show support for a new global union
Participants of the IMF Asia-Pacific regional conference express support for the process to unite the world’s industrial workers. They also emphasize the need to ensure adequate women’s representation in the new global organization.
AUSTRALIA: On May 12 and 13, 82 delegates from 15 countries attended the IMF Asia-Pacific regional conference in Sydney. The meeting was hosted by the IMF's Australian affiliates the AWU, AMWU and CEPU. Participants expressed their support for the unifying process of workers in the extractive and manufacturing industries in a long and detailed discussion. A political action plan on the focus areas of the new organization should be presented to IMF's Central Committee this December, which will decide whether to convene an extraordinary Congress in 2012.
Concerns were expressed about the multitude of unions affiliated to the IMF, ICEM and ITGLWF in many countries. It was made clear that cooperation has to be strengthened in order to build unity at national level.
Participants suggested that one third of the Executive Committee members should be women, and women should also be elected in leadership positions. Adequate women's representation needs to be ensured in the new global union.
In the women's workshop that was organized in conjunction with the regional conference, participants debated equal pay, equal opportunities, women's participation and representation in union bodies. Some progress was made but there is still a long way to go on the road towards equality.
A discussion on the implementation of the IMF's Action Program focused on organizing, building stronger unions and trade union networks in transnational corporations. One of IMF's projects has helped the Indian unions organize 10,000 new members in the growing steel industry, and Australian unions have used networks in their campaigns on Rio Tinto and Caterpillar.
Fighting precarious work and improving social protection remain key priorities in the region. Indonesian affiliates mobilized over 100,000 workers in the latest demonstration on May 1, to expand social security coverage to all citizens.
The conference adopted a resolution proposed by the Korean Metal Workers' Union KMWU on the regulation of carcinogenic substances, following shocking findings on the wide use of toxic chemicals in the Korean automotive industries. The campaign to ban asbestos will also continue in cooperation with the BWI and ICEM.May 15, 2011 – Cherisse Fredricks