SARTUC Sucessfully Completed Regional Workshop to Promote Formalization of Informal Economy & Present Situation of TU in South Asia in New Delhi, India on 29-30 August 2017.
Regional Workshop to Promote Formalization of Informal Economy & Present Situation of TU in South Asia 29-30 August 2017 New Delhi, India EVENT/PROGRAM REPORT Opening Session: On behalf of SARTUC, General Secretary Laxman Basnet extended warm welcome to Mr. Shoya Yoshida, General Secretary, ITUC-AP, President Mr. G. Sanjeeva Reddy and all the participants to the workshop. Brother Laxman in his remarks welcomed brother Shoya Yoshida, and expressed that SARTUC is delighted to have brother Shoya in SARTUC’s program as the chief guest. President Sanjeeva Reddy on his opening remarks welcomed all the participants and the guests. In his opening remarks he said that many workers are concentrated in unorganized sector which comprises of 90 percent of workers. He added by saying that the dynamics of global economy is changing where the employers are looking for avenues to reduce wage and other benefits and facilities. He informed that in the developed countries 90 percent workers are in industrial sector while remaining 10 percent are in informal sector. Thus the situation of workers of developed countries and South Asian countries cannot be compared. President Reddy further added that the time changes and we cannot predict what tomorrow holds for the Trade Union. Concluding his remarks President Reedy shared that the Trade Unions of the developed countries have to change their policy, programs and strategies according to the needs of the South Asian countries so that the end result of work collaboration is rewarding. Vice President Brother Harbajan Singh in his remarks welcomed all the chairs and the participants. Highlighting on the workshop he said that the informal economy in the present context is the right issue to learn, talk and to work on. He stressed by saying that it is the relevant topic which is also recognized by ILO. He said, that 90 percent of the workers are working in informal sector. The government wants to increase GDP while they do not consider for the wellbeing of the people who contributes to the growth of GDP. He stressed on the need of freedom to organize so that workers are free from exploitation. The problems face by a country is not just a problem of a single country. SARTUC should come together in order to resolve it. Concluding his remarks, he once again welcomed all the participants. Brother Shoya Yoshida, General Secretary, ITUC-AP in his remarks thanked all the brother and sisters for their warm welcome. He said, that this program is the first program that he is attending of SARTUC after taking up the position of General Secretary from April. He added by saying that SARTUC has achieved many things since its establishment. He said that he acknowledges the fact that working and getting things done in South Asia is not an easy thing but this should not be a reason to stop us from work, He said, we have to keep our work going and slowly we will achieve what we wanted to achieve. He stressed on the need of social dialogue and tripartite as key tools to achieve the goals. He said ITUC-AP will continue its support to SARTUC so that jointly our organizations will be more effective in our region. Session 1- Key conceptual issues on decent work and informal economy Mr. Haridasan, ITUC-AP Brother Haridasan through his presentation made conceptual clarity on informal economy. He explained that ILO classifies informal sector under three segments. He also explained why the informal economy is growing in the fast space in the dynamically changing global economy. He also explained about the challenges that Trade Unions face while their engagement with informal economy workers. He concluded his session by taking about Trade Union’s action. See detail presentation in Annex 1: Key conceptual issues on decent work and informal economy Floor discussion A participant from, India: Foreign Direct Investment companies wants the labour law to be flexible. By doing so the companies will not be obliged even to pay the minimum wage to the workers, they will have to work more than 12 hours daily with no OHS and other benefits and compensation. The Government have made rules and laws and they are the ones who are openly violating it. He said women are large in number in the informal economy and they are exploited the most. There is no protection mechanism which would protect women. He said there is lack of social dialogue and social security. A participant from Sri Lanka was concerned about making TU more effective to influence the government. He was of the view that the workers of the formal sector should also join hands together with the TU to flight for the rights of the workers in the informal economy. However, he agrees that organizing the informal sector is not an easy task until TU provides them with the financial support to work on their own. Another participant from Sri Lanka said that 66 percent of the informal economy of Sri Lanka is covered by agricultural workers and migrants. He shared that international organizations who are also the key actors working in the various issue of workers are the ones who are violating the laws. They do not consider the ILO Recommendation 87 and 88 while signing their agreement with the Government. he added that national centers are becoming very weak in the present context. He also expressed his concern regarding organizing and solving the problems of the informal sector workers. A participant from India highlighted that the informal economy is growing and formal economy is decreasing which means what more and more women are going to join the informal workspace. In South Asian alone, the composition of women working in formal economy is 80 percent where their living and working conditions are in the worst conditions. Women being the most exploited workers they are over burdened with additional problems like maternity leave, women specific basic facilities. In order to protect women, it is important that they are organized, registered, and are protected. She stressed on the need to identify ways to attract women to join unions and unions on the mother hand should think how they can mobilize women in day to day work of TU. Additionally, developing women leadership should also be the key area of focus. Participant from Nepal informed Nepal recently passed Labour law and Social Security Act The new labour law removed the minimum threshold requirement regarding the number of workers required is a positive aspect of the law. He added however, we will still need some time to evaluate the implementation of the law. It was suggested by one of the participants that SARTUC should make use of its global link with other TU in order to make its initiatives successful. Session 2 Introduction on ILO Recommendation No.204 concerning the transition from the informal to the formal economy Ms. Krishma Sharma Presentation on ILO Recommendation 204 - Transition from the Informal to the Formal Economy Recommendation, 2015 highlighted on the significance of this recommendation. The presentation was followed by some of the Preamble, objectives, its scope, guiding principle, legal and policy frameworks, employment policies, rights and social protection. See Annex 2: Transition from the informal to the formal economyR204 - Transition from the Informal to the Formal Economy Recommendation, 2015for detail presentation. Session 3: Background on formalizing the informal economy in South Asia Mr. Laxman Basnet, GS, SARTUC Brother Laxman briefly highlighted the meaning and importance of informal economy in South Asia. He described in detail its character and why it exists I n the economy. In his presentation, he linked the issues of the workers together with Sustainable Development Goals. He also suggested his personal opinion of moving forward. See Annex 3: Background on formalizing the informal economy in South Asia for detail presentation Session 4: Group work : SARTUC Plan of Action The participants jointly developed the Action plan and strategies of SARTUC. They identified three key areas to work. Item/ Agenda Action plan Strategies Level 1. ILO Recommendation 204 2. SDG 8:Promote sustained, inclusive & sustainable economic growth, full & productive employment & decent work for all. 3. SDG 16: Promote peaceful inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. - Formalizing informal economy into formal - Organizing for action - Getting implementation of 204 - Digitalization of payment, - Joint efforts - Ccampaigns - Monitoring & supervision of Rec 204 - Ssocial dialogue - Eensure support of the labor inspectorate - Regional and sub-regional - Government Rregistration of all the workers (both Formal & informal) social security under labour laws - Jjoint efforts by TUs - Eenhance labour inspection - All levels Promote tripartite mechanism & social dialogue - Policy research and discussions, stakeholders meeting, social dialogue, and interaction - Regional level & national level Basic education, vocational training & skills development , OSH - Establish institutions - Incorporate contents into existing institutions - Design manuals - Collaborate with private and public institutions for incorporating the contents of the manual designed - All central and local level Gender Equality & maternity protection - Policy advocacy, campaign, and wider engagement of the stakeholders - Central Government (policy level) - Ministries at national level & local level of respected countries Closing Session The General Secretary summarized the action plan and said that the action plan prepared by the participants will be presented to SARTUC’s board meeting for approval which will then be the Action Plan of SARTUC for 2017/18. Brother Soya Yoshida, General Secretary, ITUC-AP concluded the workshop by his closing remarks. He said he wants to thank all the participants for their intensive and participatory discussion. Brother Shoya acknowledged the outcome of the group work where the group decided to work in international instruments: ILO Recommendation 204, Sustainable Development Goals: 8 and 16. He added that we have to call our governments to take action for which he stressed on the need of regional integration. He said the problems such as minimum wage; social security etc faced by the workers can be solved only by TU. Concluding his closing remarks he committed that ITUC-AP will work in collaboration with SARTUC in future.