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Day 0 - Young Workers Forum

Rapper Sofia Ashraf is in the house!!

Opening the Young Workers forum held in Bali, Sofia shares how her 2015 rap, “Kodaikanal Won’t Step Down,” set to the tune of Nicky Minaj’s “Anaconda” – a controversial song in India – gathered 3.5 million views (4.1 million as of this writing) and started a campaign that eventually forced Unilever to pay $591 million in compensation to workers and forests poisoned from mercury from the company’s Kodaikanal thermometer unit it had shut down in early 2000s.

A massive win for the social justice movement. And a true inspiration to young workers!


Kosuke Homma laments how more and more young Japanese workers find themselves unable to start their own family due to economic insecurity

Speaking at the 2019 PSI Asia & Pacific Regional Conference (APRECON) in Bali-Indonesia, Kosuke Homma, Manager of the Youth Division at JICHIRO (All Japan Prefectural and Municipal Workers’ Union), stressed the importance of including young workers in the fight against insecure and precarious work:

“Young workers are having an incredibly hard time today at the workplace. It is unfair that they often have to put their life aspirations aside; without job security, they really can’t afford to get married and start families while they are barely certain of their own futures as individuals. We have to advocate to ensure that young workers enjoy the same basic and human rights. Many are suffering from inequalities, including long hours on the job with little pay.”

Together with our Japanese affiliates, PSI commends all the actors involved in recently calling for labor reform laws abolishing long working hours in Japan.

“Even though the fight is not yet over, the progress made in improving the work style in Japan is so far very significant. We also still need to rally support in bringing an end to the cutting down on human resources by large companies that are heavily reliant on technology to replace people.”, expressed the JICHIRO Youth Division Manager.

As per his encouragement to young workers in Japan, he called for a united voice by all actors to ensure the protection of young workers’ rights:

“We build young workers’ power by primarily rallying more and more of them behind the call to increase minimum wage. It is also important to bridge the divide between the formal and informal sectors by enhancing both sides’ understanding about what common traits they share. Communication is key.”


Angel, a young worker from the Philippines, muses: While we have begun talking about the ‘future of work,’ what we should also be talking about is the future of our planet because we may have more serious problems than lack of decent jobs – and that is the loss of our home.

“Climate change threatens jobs and livelihoods,” said Angel Tonido, one of the young workers and a Filipino computer engineer researching on and developing systems to monitor climate change in the Philippines.

This is why the group of young workers currently in Bali for a forum have decided to join the global youth-led climate strike on Friday, September 20th.

Young workers from across the Asia Pacific region are marching down to the Indian Ocean early morning Friday to express their thoughts and messages about the climate situation. This is to show solidarity to millions of young people across the world who will strike against business-as-usual systems that exacerbate the impacts of climate change.

The global youth-led climate strike comes before the UN Climate Action Summit in New York City, USA, on Monday, September 23rd.

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Day 1 - Women's Caucus & APRECON Opening

Amidst reports of increasing trade union rights violations, the Philippine government does seem like a paradox in the face of the fact that it is the only country in Asia Pacific – apart from Azerbaijan – that has ratified ILO Convention 151 or the Labour Relations in Public Service Convention, opening the way for public service workers to have full association and collective bargaining rights.

After campaigning for nearly a decade under then Pres. Noynoy Aquino, the Philippine trade union movement got the Philippine Senate to ratify the Convention on August 2017, four months after Pres. Rodrigo Duterte came into power. The president had the sole authority to endorse an international treaty to the Senate for ratification.

Was it an accident of fortune that got C151 ratified?

Esperanza Ocampo, president of the Philippine Government Employees Association, does not say. She believes, though, that the successful campaign is an outcome of the massive effort of the movement – of unions from both the public and private sectors – particularly, of the Trade Union Rights Network, to educate everyone – unionists, lawmakers, public – on C151 and to lobby the lawmakers.

Young workers from across Asia Pacific to show solidarity to the global climate strike


A group of young people are heading down to the beach on Friday. This is not an unusual sight in Bali where thousands of people flock to the island’s numerous beaches everyday. But these are no ordinary tourists, and Friday is no ordinary day.

Young workers from across Asia Pacific are marching down to the Indian Ocean on September 20th early morning to demand action to prevent further climate chaos. These workers will show solidarity to millions of young people and supporters across the world who are participating in climate strikes against the business-as-usual approach to the global economy which means that emissions have hit record highs.

“The climate crisis is threatening jobs, livelihoods and ultimately the future of functional societies,” said Angel Tonido, one of the young workers and a Filipino computer engineer researching on and developing systems to monitor climate change in the Philippines.

The young workers’ climate action comes as Public Services International, a global trade union federation, and its more than a hundred trade union affiliates across the Asia Pacific region, ends a week-long conference held on the island.

Representing workers in public services – health, social services, electricity, water, waste management, public administration, local government, emergency services – the trade unions present at the conference have expressed support for the young workers’ climate strike.

To the effects of climate change, workers from Pacific Island Countries are as vulnerable as their islands which are small in size and geographically dispersed.

In a resolution proposed to be adopted at the conference, participants call on affiliated unions to “recognize that our economic system – neoliberal capitalism – is fundamentally incapable of delivering the changes we need to survive,” and that “the survival of Pacific Islands …will require a new global social contract with public investment in renewables, in public health services, emergency services, reduced consumption, all of which require a fundamental shift in labour standards.”

“Climate change is a big issue in the Pacific Islands,” Alfred Manele, from the Solomon Islands Public Employees Union,” said. “It ruins our and our families’ agriculture-based livelihoods, and disrupts work, especially in emergencies when workers in the city suddenly have to come home to their rural hometowns to help their families respond to emergencies.”

The global youth-led climate strike comes before the UN Climate Action Summit in New York City, USA, on Monday, September 23rd.

“While we, the young workers, have begun talking about the ‘future of work,’ what we should also be talking about is the future of our planet because we may have more serious problems than lack of decent jobs – and that is the loss of our home,” Tonido said.

Recognizing the effort from unions across the world to curb violence and harassment against women


PSI’s Asia & Pacific Regional Secretary sister Kate Lappin hailed regional trade unions for their progressive efforts towards the elimination of violence and harassment against women at the workplace, as presented in ILO Convention 190 and the June 2019 recommendation 209 on harassment at the workplace.

“Through the convention, governments are bound on a specific language on violence and harassment – a huge achievement for trade unions in the region and across the world. It’s taken a long time and a lot of effort from many different actors in the public sector, but we ought to congratulate ourselves for how far we’ve come, even though there’s still a long way to go.” – Sister Kate

Great wins for the convention include that it offers new areas that haven’t been in previous declarations. The importance of paid domestic violence leave appears in the recommendations, with a few countries like the Philippines and New Zealand making serious strides towards actions to ensure the protection of women in public services against harassment and violence.

The definition of harassment is also developed further. Before, it needed to be repeated behavior – the convention notes it hasn’t got to be. The language has been improved to better frame what constitutes violence and harassment.

“It is expansive, broad, and what we wanted in terms of the definitions, breadth of who it applies to (not just employee-employer), and employer obligations, with explicit reference to the public sector. This is all important for our advocacy.”, added Sister Kate

We still have a bit of a long way to go to get the kind of provisions that require in both the and the recommendation, but we can be proud of where we are at so far, says Sister Kate:

“We now need to increase efforts behind getting governments to ratify it. PSI would like to support and do collective strategizing around which countries we should be approaching. We can all make efforts to ensure that we move this along to being a binding international instrument. We are looking to use the Beijing+25 platform for action to strategize with the ITUC and other partners around further ratification of the convention across our region.”

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Private is not necessarily better (compared to public). And ‘privatisation’ is not this huge, unassailable phenomenon that, many feel, is simply inevitable.


Judith Kiejda, Asst. General Secretary of the New South Wales Nurses and Midwives’ Association, certainly does not think so, after her union had successfully campaigned to put five hospitals back into public hands, after the Australian government announced on October 2016 – without prior notice – that it was going to explore public-private partnership (PPP) models for healthcare.

Given the bad track record of private healthcare in Australia, the union and their community were not just going to allow their healthcare to be in the hands of profiteers. Providing evidence of the private healthcare providers’ performance, and communicating these effectively to the community members, was their formula for a successful campaign.

“To rally the community, it was important that our message resonated with them,” Judith said, speaking at a panel talking about the future of public services. “We did research in order to understand what the community understands. We learned not to make assumptions about what the community understands.”

Taking control of the digital forces that strengthen privatization


We’re currently living in a digital era; with so many services previously handled by human workers over hours nowadays handled by machines within minutes. Where the greatest danger lies here is when digitalization is left in the hands of the private sector; which magnifies the threat of privatization even further. Corporations are taking over public functions. The public is increasingly opposed to privatization and demanding governments ensure corporations contribute to the public good through taxes, rather than capture commonly-owned resources and services.

During a plenary session on the future of public services, Parmindeerjeet Singh of IT for Change – India encouraged public sector workers to take ownership of crucial data that gives hungry corporations more power over communities and cities:

“Data is ours. And without us, technology cannot work. That’s where we should start. There are many laws about personal data, but not enough about collective data – community data. Owning up community data is the same as fighting for the public good. Public sector workers need to associate with other workers to fight for workers’ data rights. We should look to take up digital skills and associate with other actors to fight global digital trade rules.”

This afternoon, participants at PSI’s Workshop on Digitalization for the Public Good at this year’s APRECON discussed strategies to ensure that public data is not mishandled by hungry private corporations. Discussions centered around answers to questions such as: ‘what is public control of public data?’ and ‘what is community control of public data?’

The emphasis of the discussions is that unions should be part of the decision-making and involved in shaping the rules for public control and public data.

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