Second-worst region in the world for workers’ rights . . .
The Asia Pacific saw worsening respect for workers’ rights last year, according to the seventh edition of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) Global Rights Index. The Index ranked 144 countries on their degree of respect for workers’ rights from April 2019 to March 2020. The Asia Pacific ranked second-worst among regions (behind the Middle East and North Africa) for the seventh year running. Eighty-seven per cent of Asia Pacific countries were found to exclude workers from the right to establish or join a trade union, and 91 per cent of countries were identified as violating the right to collective bargaining.
Bangladesh, India, Philippines lead grim list . . .
Bangladesh topped the global list of worst countries for workers, in part due to police violence and mass firings after wage protests. India came in sixth following New Delhi’s relaxation and removal of labour protections for the 94 per cent of India’s workers who work in the informal economy, while the Philippines came in eighth due to murders of labour organizers. Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia were also flagged for arresting or prosecuting union leaders, South Korea for failing to ratify International Labour Organization conventions, and Fiji for suspending five trade unions. Firms violating workers’ rights were also listed, including the China Civil Engineering Construction Company in Africa, and Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific for firing pro-democracy employees.
COVID-19 challenges only just beginning . . .
The report also addresses the abuse of migrant domestic workers from Asia, including of Filipino workers in the Middle East. The ITUC ranked Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, and Taiwan relatively high – giving them the same overall rating as Canada – but still cited “repeated violations of rights” in each economy (including Canada). With only eight per cent of countries in the Asia Pacific offering paid sick leave, childcare, or pension guarantees as part of government or employer responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, the situation for workers is likely to get worse.
- BNN Bloomberg: Workers of the world are at risk
- The Guardian: Bangladesh strikes: thousands of garment workers clash with police over poor pay
- 2020 ITUC Global Rights Index: The world’s worst countries for workers