Tuesday, November 14, 2017

THE ASEAN integration process right now is void of a common, uniform core labor standards and occupational safety and health standards. It’s a race to the bottom for workers if only business, employers and governments meet and discuss economic growth and development strategies. To ensure a genuine and functional shared prosperity, certain labor, safety and health standards must be observed.

This is why the signing of the ASEAN Consensus on the Protection and Promotion of Migrant Workers is a positive step towards an improved labor and occupational safety standards among the regional grouping’s 10 member states.

President Duterte should be commended for putting in the forefront of the ongoing ASEAN Summit the welfare of 10 million migrant workers in Southeast Asia by ensuring that the consensus is signed (among the first in the order of business). This is a positive step towards improving core labor and occupational safety and health standards on decent and humane treatment of migrant workers and their families.

The consensus is a by-product of the ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers introduced by the Philippines when it hosted the 12th ASEAN Summit meeting in Cebu on January 2007.

With the signing of the consensus, we look toward the formulation of action plans that would compel ASEAN receiving and sending countries to improve their labor and occupational safety and health standards for migrant workers. The action plans should promote the best practices.

It is high time perhaps, too, to establish a common, uniform labor and working condition standards in ASEAN. Without a uniform, binding labor standards, we would see rampant child labor, more abuses on women workers, prevalent sweatshops, poor wages, temporary and short-term jobs, and bare social protection in ASEAN as governments and businesses prod workers to produce goods and services.

The goal is to achieve genuine people-centered economic growth and shared prosperity among the peoples of ASEAN’s 10 member states.


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