Opening address at the South-East Asia Trade Union sub-regional conference on Trade Union Strategies for Resilience and Renewal post-COVID

By Mr Khalid Hassan, Director, ILO Country Office for the Philippines at the South-East Asia Trade Union sub-regional conference on Trade Union Strategies for Resilience and Renewal post-COVID, 10 October 2022, Manila, Philippines

Statement | Manila, Philippines | 10 October 2022
  • Brothers and sisters from trade unions and workers organizations;
  • Brother Jiang Guangping, Vice Chairperson of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU);
  • Brother Ruben Torres, General Secretary of the ASEAN Trade Union Council (ATUC);
  • ILO colleagues, especially our experts from the ILO Bureau of Workers Activities (ACTRAV);
  • Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, good morning!
A warm welcome to this South-East Asian Conference on Trade Union Strategies for Resilience and Renewal Post Covid. It is my pleasure to welcome all our delegates.

After two and a half years of COVID-19, it is great to finally meet so many of you face-to-face.

We also warmly welcome those joining us online. Thank you for your contributions.

We are also grateful to ILO-ACTRAV for hosting this hybrid conference in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, and giving us the chance to collaborate effectively with many of you.

We are also thankful to representatives from ACFTU, who have provided effective support to organize activities, including this conference.

We are also appreciative of the opportunity to welcome representatives from ASEAN Secretariat, ACE and ATUC.

And of course, a big thank you and warm welcome once again to the many union representatives from the 10 ASEAN member States and all our partners across South-East Asia and beyond.

On behalf of the CO-Manila, it is a pleasure to have you all at this very important sub-regional conference.

Delegates, as we all know, the past few years have been impacted by a global pandemic.

In addition to COVID-19, this region is facing political and humanitarian crises both near and far, with conflicts in Myanmar and Ukraine as ongoing instances.

As the globe warms, workers and their families must deal with the effects of extreme weather events.

Unions in the region must always stand tall and true when addressing known risks and responding to crises. Despite the adversity, unions must demonstrate solidarity, strength and resiliency, continue to support workers and really be organizations that they can rely on.

As we know, the battles to achieve greater social justice and decent work are not yet over. Indeed, there is still much to be done across the globe and in our region.

More than ever, constituents, including unions must continue to mobilize at all levels to keep pushing for jobs and workers’ rights, while remaining in line with the International Labour Standards and the rule of law.

All our South-East Asian nations and their peoples are still recovering from the various impacts of the crises. We knew, the global COVID-19 pandemic impeded several socio-economic, educational and social activities that supported workers’ livelihoods.

Post-pandemic, the livelihoods of millions of workers in the region remain precarious.

Today, there is still an urgent and pressing need to exchange lessons learned and share good practices that will enable all of us to move forward effectively.

Trade unions have an ever more crucial role to make decent work and social justice a reality, particularly in the improvement of living and working conditions, the respect for fundamental rights of workers still affected by the impact of the various crises or by the rapid increase of workers in emerging sectors.

During this two-day conference, we expect in-depth, constructive and productive discussions.

Particular focus will be the impact of the changing world of work and the challenges and opportunities they bring to trade unions in the region.

We will also focus on revitalizing social dialogue and collective bargaining in the region, discussing strategic priorities and actions for social dialogue mechanisms to offer solutions.

We believe this conference can result in national and sub-regional concrete actions enabling trade unions to lead, shape and deliver human-centred recovery policies and initiatives.
This is in line with the ILO’s Global Call to Action for a human-centred COVID-19 recovery that is inclusive, sustainable and resilient.

It echoes the priorities and vision of our new ILO Director General Gilbert Houngbo for social justice and equality, who also makes history as the first African to be elected to the position.

Your views and voices matter in debates and discussions over the next two days.

The results will lead to concrete, collaborative actions, move forward better and make sure no one is left behind. We count on you to make it happen.

Finally, let me wish you all a very fruitful and successful conference.

Thank you.