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Public Services International Asia Pacific Regional Organisation

Regional secretary: Ms. V. Lakshmi Wisma AUPE, 295 Upper Paya Lebar Road Singapore 534929 Tel: +65.6282.3219 and Fax +65.6280.4919 E-mail:

November 2011

People First - Quality Public Services Are Key

Public Services Internationals 12th Asia Pacific Regional Conference (APRECON) kicked off in Sydney on 17 October 2011 under the theme People First Quality Public Services Are Key. Four sectoral workshops focused on challenges to the utility and municipal sectors, emergency workers and disaster management services, health care and social services for people, and public administration. Experienced union delegates and activists, together with experts in the field of public services delivery and reform, highlighted the strategic role of public services and the workers who deliver these services in strengthening democracies, developing sustainable societies and achieving social justice, equity and equality. The workshop discussions drew from the delegates experiences, case studies, campaigns and continuing education and research all highly instructive and inspiring. The common message from the four learning workshops is loud and clear and that is: Together with the people and communities, it is time for public sector unions to reclaim public services. It is time to reclaim the power taken away by the institutions of corporate globalization and to replace these with democratic and accountable institutions and norms that better serve the needs of people. It is time to recognize the fundamental rights of workers to organize, negotiate and participate in various levels of governance.

Public Services International is a global union federation representing 20 million members in 150 countries. AP News is published and electronically distributed every two months by Public Services International Asia and Pacific Regional Organisation (PSI APRO). Please send comments and contributions to: or

AP News 1

Equal Rights for Decent Work

APRECON Day Two workshops on 18 October 2011 stressed that outsourcing is a deeply flawed strategy. This was the resounding verdict based on the experiences of CPSU-SPSF in regards to the tendering of contracts to multinational corporations to deliver services, and outsourcing in the justice and corrections sector in Australia. Underneath the deceptive corporate packaging are layers of inefficiency, higher costs, and sometimes fatal lack of accountability which are usually kept from public knowledge and suppressed by governments and profit-driven corporations. Young workers are adversely impacted by these schemes. It is frequently young workers who are doing precarious work jobs that are often dirty, dangerous and demeaning. The Asia Pacific Youth Network, which hosted the second learning workshop, made four excellent and moving true-to-life presentations on the situation facing young workers in India and New Zealand. A video from Japan elucidated the struggles of young workers trying to balance work and family life. The call for trade unions to increase their efforts to stop the exploitation of young workers found resonance in the equally impressive presentations on rebalancing the lives of working women, who have been hard hit by the continuing economic and financial crises. The Asia Pacific and global surveys on precarious work are extremely useful to PSI AP continuing campaigns against the feminization of precarious work, the feminization of poverty, and the unsustainable marginalization of women workers by maximizing all available ILO Conventions including the Global Jobs Pact. The day ended on a high note with a thought-provoking learning session that focused on achieving security in retirement by reforming or retaining pensions for public sector workers. A panel of expert trade unionists from CPSU-SPSF, Australia, FPSA-Fiji, AUPE-Singapore and Professor Hazel Bateman provided the delegates with a wealth of information on the general and country specific public sector pension landscape. The delegates adopted an action plan that demonstrated their strong commitment to fighting for retirement security.

Quality Public Services = (Fair taxation + public investment)

APRECON Day Three workshops on 19 October 2011 focussed on the topics: International Solidarity Levy (ISL) A Vision Beyond 2011, and Public Investment is the Way Forward: Dialogue with Asian Development Bank. PSI APRO has taken a keen interest in these two issues for quite some time. Professor Takehiko Uemura, Yokohama City University, explained that the creation of a solidarity levy is one of the crucial policy measures required to build a sustainable civil society at the global level. PSI is supporting a global campaign for such a levy, also known as a financial transaction tax. Uemura emphasized that it is important for unions to support this fair taxation campaign in order to promote public services. Ms. Bobet Corral described how the PSI has engaged in dialogue with the Asian Development Bank since September 2005 in order to ensure respect for workers and trade union rights and promote quality public services in ADB-assisted projects in the Asia-Pacific region. PSIs dialogue with ADB focuses on: putting more emphasis on quality public services over privatisation and profit; stronger compliance with the internationally recognized Core Labour Standards and related labour laws in the design and implementation of ADB projects; consultation with workers and their unions in ADB projects; gender equity; and publicpublic partnerships in service delivery.

AP News 2

Open Forum: Emerging/Critical Human and Union Rights Issues in the Asia Pacific Region
Public sector workers and their unions fight for human and trade union rights was the theme of the APRECON open forum held 19 October 2011. Participants discussed the trade union rights situation in the Asia Pacific region with a particular emphasis on whats happening in Fiji, Korea and Indonesia. Trade union rights are human rights, but some governments and employers systematically reject or abuse these rights. PSI supports affiliates when they face such violations by organizing international support, helping with development of infrastructure, representing affiliates in the International Labour Organisation (ILO), and by providing educational resources. Fiji: Human and trade union rights have become specific targets of the military regime since the abrogation of the Constitution in 2009. The junta has made enormous policy interventions that are totally unacceptable in a civilized world by any stretch of imagination, particularly by an unelected government. It has changed laws relating to land, labour, taxation, judiciary and public services. The military regime in Fiji has been flouting basic human and labour rights conventions and the situation of ordinary Fijian workers is going from bad to worse. Korea: The government has a long record of harassment and denial of basic trade union rights for public employees and their unions. Indonesia: The management of Airport 1 Company refused to recognise the signed collective agreement. Management responded to strikes held in 2008 with intimidation and threats to union leaders. One leader was dismissed, another seven union officials were suspended. The case was elevated to the international level, in particular to the ILO, through the intervention of PSI. Deliberations on the case were followed up by PSI to put pressure on the Indonesian Government to recognize the union, implement the collective agreement and protect workers rights. The ILO Committee on Freedom of Association made strong recommendations to the Indonesian Government on this case. Today, the collective agreement is being implemented particularly on the issue of wage increases and leave rights, and the union is recognized as the workers legal representative. However, Mr. Arif Islam has not been re-instated to his former position. The union and PSI continue to campaign for his re-instatement.

Advancing human rights and decent work in the Asia-Pacific

Some 200 delegates from 22 countries met to discuss public services and trade union rights issues under the APRECON banner People First, Quality Public Services Are Key. Delegates contributed to a five year action plan for PSI in the Asia Pacific region. This plan focuses on improving public service funding through fair taxation including a financial transactions tax providing decent and stable jobs instead of precarious contracts, reversing privatization trends by promoting the economic and social value of public services, and defending human and trade union rights. The recommendations from the workshops formed six resolutions as solidarity measures and are incorporated into the new Regional Action plan. For details on the resolutions, please see:

AP News 3


Confronting precarious work and building union strength

PSIs affiliates in the Philippines were joined by PSI affiliate TEHY (The Union of Social Care and Health Professionals of Finland) and SASK (the Trade Union Solidarity Centre of Finland) for a three day workshop in Manila on 8-10 September 2011 to develop strategies to confront precarious work and build union strength in the health sector. In the Philippines, health sector unions are grappling with major issues: cuts in the public sector, widespread failure to fill vacant government positions, low and unpaid work, undersupply of decent jobs, and increasing outsourcing of services in the private hospitals sector. In nursing, the phenomenon of forced volunteerism has become especially rampant trainee nurses are required to pay hospitals fees to do their internships and obtain certificates of accreditation. The workshop identified a number of key areas for future trade union organising and policy interventions. A further elaboration of the ideas presented in the workshop will be presented later in the year for endorsement as a strategic plan for activities on precarious work and trade union strengthening in the health sector through 20122014. For more information, please see:

Burma to allow unions for first time since 1962

The formation of trade unions will be permitted in Burma for the first time in almost half a century, following the signing of a new law by the countrys president. Under the legislation, trade unions with a minimum of 30 members will be allowed to be formed and industrial action will be permitted to take place providing notice of 14 days is given. To learn more, please see:

PSI Malaysia affiliates joins nationwide picket

PSI affiliates joined with other members of the Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) on a nationwide picket on 3 November 2011 to protest amendments to the Employment Act, passed by the Dewan Rakyat on 6 October 2011. Brother Mohd Roszeli General Secretary of Junior Officers Union of Tenaga National Berhad (JOUTNB) and PSI Trade Union Rights Network Coordinator for Malaysia, and MTUC Vice-President said the amendments could affect job security and workers rights. Of particular concern is the provision for a contractor for labour which allows employers to use these middlemen and thereby avoid the responsibilities involved in employing workers themselves. The amendments expose the workers to abuse at the hands of the contractors of labour. For further information, please contact Brother Mohd Rozseli:

AP News 4

What have public services ever done for me?

A new video has been produced by New Zealand Public Service Association as part of their campaign for quality public services. Cheekily titled What have public services ever done for me? the video confronts an individual who claims to be sick and tired of paying public services that have nothing to do me. Watch the video at this link:


ILO says world heading for a new and deeper jobs recession, warns of more social unrest
The ILOs new World of Work Report 2011: Making markets work for jobs says a stalled global economic recovery has begun to dramatically affect labour markets. On current trends, it will take at least five years before employment in advanced economies returns to pre-crisis levels, one year later than projected in last years report. The report indicates that 80 million jobs would need to be created over the next two years in order to return to pre-crisis employment rates. However, the recent slowdown in growth suggests that in that time period, the world economy is likely to create only half of the jobs needed. The report also features a new social unrest index that shows levels of discontent over the lack of jobs and anger over perceptions that the burden of the crisis is not being shared fairly. It notes that in over 45 of the 119 countries examined, the risk of social unrest is rising. Read the report, please see:

Occupy Seoul: We are the 99%

On 3 November, PSI healthcare workers delivered an economic prescription to government leaders attending the G20 Summit in Cannes, France: Apply a financial transaction tax to heal global inequities. This action to promote a financial transaction tax to world leaders is led by PSI, our affiliate National Nurses United, the International Trade Union Confederation and civil society partners. The photo on the left shows Korean Health Workers Union (KHMU) participating in Occupy Seoul, 15 October 2011, to support the campaign. More information, please see:

AP News 5