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Thirty four delegates representing fourteen National Groups attended the

3-yearly Council Meeting of the Asia Pacific Workers Solidarity Links

(APWSL) held at Ratmalana, Colombo, Sri Lanka, from 6 November 1998 to 10

November 1998.


Prior to the meeting the delegates participated on an exposure visit to a

tea plantation outside the city of Kandy. On day three of the programme

delegates participated in the workers "commemoration" of the 20 year

anniversary of the first Free Trade Zone in Sri Lanka.


The Council meeting received reports from the Coordinator and each APWSL

national group for the last three years. In addition special reports were

given on the Asian Economic Crisis and Workers in the Free Trade Zones. A

newly released video on women workers in Sri Lanka, Thailand and Korea was

also shown.



The delegates observed with great concern that in the last few years in the

name of "globalisation" workers and common toiling people have been

subjected to unprecedented assaults.


The ruling class of the Industrially Developed Countries (IDCs) and their

Multinationals (MNCs) are dictating terms to Industrially Less Developed

Countries (IDLCs). This is being done through the World Bank and

International Monitory Fund (IMF) pushing through Structural Adjustment

Programmes (SAPs). These programmes of economic and fiscal policies are

favourable to the global market dominated by the G-8 countries and

antagonistic to the interest of the workers, women and toiling common



Reduction of government spending (being one of the conditions of SAP), the

budgetary allocation on health, education and social security systems are

drastically lowered by the governments. As a result, hospital services and

educational facilities have declined. Medical expenses are escalating

beyond the reach of the workers and toiling people. This has led to more

sickness and ill health. Life expectancy has been reduced. Every three

minutes one child is dying in the world because of these conditions.


The 1998 UNDP reports says, "Well over a billion people are deprived of

basic consumption need ... nearly three fifths of the 4.4 million people of

developing countries have no access to clean water...one fifth of the

children do not attend school to Grade 5."


Even the workers and people of countries such as Australia and Japan are

compelled to march in the streets raising their voice of protest against

the hike in medical expenses and the destruction of other social services.


Another condition of SAP such as privatisation and deregulation hits

workers hard. Regular workers are becoming casuals, formal service

conditions are converted to contractual. Workers are deprived of provident

funds, gratuity, housing, medical and other benefits. Public and

government sector workers are seriously suffering. Trade union rights are

jeopardised. The measures of the governments have affected the jobs of

many thousands of employees and have blocked the possibilities of new

employment in regular positions. The deepening economic crisis due to

hasty steps of the governments for privatisation is also resulting in

banking crashes as is evidenced in Japan.



Women are the most vulnerable group of workers affected by globalisation.

Free Trade Zones are established mainly employing women workers. These

workers are denied trade unions rights, basic human rights and often

compelled to do continuous overtime against their will to complete a job

within a time. Their services are often terminated on flimsy, concocted

grounds particularly during pregnancy.


This meeting observed that while implementation of the globalisation

policies has served the narrow profit motive interests of MNC's and the

speculative money investors, it has brought miseries to the life of

workers, women and toiling common people.


This meeting also noted that awareness against the anti-people, anti labour

policies of globalisation is increasing. The resistance programmes against

these inhuman attacks on workers and common people are intensifying. APWSL

is duty bound to play its part in the resistance to globalisation that is

growing in the countries of Asia Pacific region.


The meeting decided that APWSL should continue to:

* support and co-ordinate the organising of mainly women workers in the Free

Trade Zones and garment factories of the region and assist in their

regional linking

* build genuine trade unions and centers and link them through the

International Trade Union Network (ITUN)

*  encourage the involvement of our unions with the formal international and

regional trade union movement in order to make them more relevant for

working people

*  advocate for worker rights in this region especially through our


of APEC Labour Rights Monitor (ALARM)

*  work for the full participation of women within APWSL and the broader

trade union movement

*  build linkages between workers from different TNC's in this region and


*  build linkages and networks of workers beyond the industrial sector, eg

plantation workers

*  organise opposition to international and regional bodies and treaties that

are fundamentally anti-worker, eg APEC and the proposed Multilateral

Agreement on Investment (MAI).

*  oppose the downgrading of ILO Conventions and the attempts to make the ILO

subservient to the WTO.


Reflecting the major changes of the last 3 years being

* the growing intensity of globalisation.

* the collapse of East Asia and other economies and the global economic


* the rapid informalisation of labour in all economies of this region and



* the growing rates of industrial accidents and deaths and the lowering of

health and safety standards.


The APWSL Council decided to implement the following new programs:

* combine with other organisations and sectors to build programmes of

resistance to the globalisation agenda of the world's elite

* concentrate on supporting programmes in all countries to confront the


of informalisation and flexibility of labour, support the organisation of

unorganised working in this sector and to help build an International

Network for Marginalised Labour (INFORMAL)

* develop and implement an Occupational Health and Safety Project as part of


the ongoing work of APWSL and link and support organisations such as the

Asian Network for the Right of OHS Victims.

  Ratmalana 10 November 1998  








1) Solidarity with the Mirrar People (Australia)

That this APWSL Council in Sri Lanka extend its support to the Mirrar

people in their just struggle to prevent Energy Resources Australia (ERA)

from mining uranium on Mirrar land at Jabiluka in Kakadu National Park. We

recognise the justice of the Mirrar peoples claims to the land and their

right to exercise self determination. We call on the Howard Government of

Australia to restore the basic human rights of the Mirrar with respect to

their land and freedom.


2) Internal Security Act

 That the APWSL Council in session from 6-10 November 1998 in Colombo, Sri

Lanka and attended by representatives from 14 National Groups in the Asia

Pacific endorses the following resolution put forward by APWSL Philippines,

Malaysia and Thailand.


1) Whereas, the Internal Security Act, more notoriously known as the ISA,

is the mother of all repressive laws and policies in Malaysia, and has been

used by the government in that country for repressing trade union strikes

and other actions of workers and employees and the free expression and

peaceful assembly of the people in the said country;

2) Whereas, recently the Government of prime Minister Mahathir has again

employed the full force of the ISA to crack down on dissent and opposition

to the ISA and other government policies, and, as a consequence, scores of

people have been brutally arrested and thrown into jail;

3) Whereas, in the face of and in reaction to such renewed government

repression, there has been a growing and intensifying struggle of Malaysian

workers and peoples to scrap the ISA and usher in freedom and democracy in


4) Therefore, be it resolved that APWSL condemns the repression going on in

Malaysia, and, accordingly calls the attention of the Malaysian Government

to heed the Malaysian people's clamour to junk the ISA.

5) Further, the APWSL Council expresses its unqualified support and

solidarity to the Malaysian workers and peoples struggle for freedom and

democracy in their country.


3) Solidarity with the South Korean workers

 "That this meeting of the Joint Association of Workers and Worker Councils

of Free Trade Zones and 32 foreign guests from Asia Pacific Workers

Solidarity links send solidarity greetings to the South Korean workers

movement, especially the KCTU on the occasion of their National Workers

Day, today 8 November. We support the call of the Korean workers for their

10 demands at their rally today. Workers of the World, Unite!"


4) Free Trade Zones

 "That this APWSL council supports the creation of an International Day

Against Free Trade Zones and organises protests throughout the region every

year on that day once it has been set."


5) Open World Conference

 "That this APWSL Council endorses the call for an "Open World Conference in

Defence of Trade Union Independence and Democratic Rights" to be held in

the United States during the year 2000."

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