The pandemic has severely interrupted all economic sectors and society – rising unemployment rates, below-average working hours and reduction of permanent jobs since having been transferred to informal employment. There is an urgent need to create decent jobs as well as to promote the formalisation of the informal employment; precarious employment in the region is relatively high with little social and legal protection.
The 109th International Labour Conference which took place in June 2021, adopted the Resolution on a “Global Call to Action for a human-centered recovery from the COVID-19 crisis that is inclusive, sustainable and resilient”. The resolution requests tripartite constituents and the international community to take urgent and coordinated action that includes access to COVID-19 vaccines, treatment and preventive measures for all people, improved employment conditions, and progress towards achieving the goals of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Since 2006, SNTUC has collaborated with ITC-ILO to improve the capacity of unionists from the APAC region to improve workers-related issues through regional training workshops in Singapore.
As a follow up of the resolution, delegates of the ILO-SNTUC Virtual Regional Trade Union Workshop on the Global call to action for a human-centered recovery from the COVID-19 gathered virtually across 26 – 28 October 2021. The workshop was organised to understand, discuss, and exchange experiences and practices on the role of trade unions and actions to be taken towards the accepted ILO resolution. Participants in attendance included the Deputy Director-General and Director of ILO, Sister Martha and Sister Maria as well as the General Secretary of ITUC-Asia Pacific, Brother Shoya as well as unionists from the APAC region such as Fiji, Nepal, Singapore and South Korea.
Ms Mary Liew, President of SNTUC and Deputy Member of ILO Governing Body gave her address at the opening of the 2021 virtual regional trade union workshop. She thanked both workers and unionists for their contributions as front liners especially during this pandemic period. She expressed her disappointment towards how COVID-19 has disrupted both the annual workshop, and on a more global and pressing front – the livelihoods of all workers. However, she remains positive about a global economic rebound as she shared about Singapore’s recovery and an encouraging decline in unemployment rate.
The 3-day workshop presented research findings and a global trend analysis on the crucial role that trade unions have had to play in times of COVID-19. Discussions were also facilitated between trade unionists on how countries have responded to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recovery.
Ultimately, in this Human-Centered Recovery, national governments and their employer and trade unions are working together to help achieve a job-rich recovery that substantially strengthens worker and social protections while also supporting sustainable enterprises. Joint efforts from international cooperations, multilateral institutions, including the ILO, will also be crucial to increase the level and coherence of support for national “human-centered” pandemic recovery strategies. All efforts, eventually, to ensure that the world emerge stronger and progress forward together, leaving no one behind.