New step toward building a network for monitoring TNC's
by FURUYA Sugio
JOSHRC Secretary General
On November 23 and 24, 1997, an international seminar was held to discuss the measures and coordination required to effectively monitor the economic activities, including direct investments, of transnational companies (TNCs) of East Asian countries-Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong. The meeting, an East Asian Seminar for Monitoring TNC's, was organized by the People's Action Network to Monitor Japanese TNCs (PANMJTNC), with supporting participation from 12 non-governmental organizations (NGOs), including the Japan Occupational Safety and Health Resource Center (JOSHRC). Along with Japanese NGOs focusing on this problem, representatives of citizen groups from other East Asian economies also attended.
The objectives of the Seminar were:
1) to review the actual state of the investments of TNCs based in East Asia and associated problems, and elaborate the tasks and roles to be shared by the NGOs in the economies concerned;
2) to discuss ways to enhance the monitoring of TNC's being conducted by a number of citizens groups and labor unions, and further their common understanding; and
3) to establish a network for monitoring East Asian TNC's.
On November 23, a draft Asian NGO Charter on Transnational Corporations, prepared by the organizing group, PANMJTNC, was presented for elaboration, and problems related to it were discussed. Among the requests were the addition of specific clauses on women's rights and maternity protection, and the extension of these beyond parent companies and their subsidiaries into their subcontractors, which have substantial influence on local labor relations and environmental conditions.
This was the first day that the draft was publicly discussed. It is scheduled to be elaborated further in order to be of fundamental guidance for future TNC monitoring activities.
Through this process of elaboration, the participants exchanged their specific experience and insights into TNC behavior, thus helping them appreciate their achievements and future tasks.
The first task may be to promote and circulate this daft charter, particularly among labor unions. For Japanese NGOs, which have been handicapped by poor cooperation from the established trade unions, this will be a challenging but meaningful task.
This move, initiated by NGO's, was the first such effort in this region, apart from the 'Social Charter for Democratic Development, promulgated by the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions' Asian Pacific Region Organization (ICFTU-APRO) in 1994.
On the second day of the Seminar, various NGO representatives presented their respective national reports, and this was followed by a panel discussion. In the discussion the following topics were addressed:
* capital withdrawal problem in Masang (S. Korea),
* problems in investment in China,
* lessons from the joint campaign against nuclear power plant exportation from Japan to Taiwan
* problems in overseas investment of Taiwanese TNCs
* problems in overseas investment of Korean TNCs
The November Seminar was not the first effort to build a regional network for monitoring TNC activities. The effort was started with a Japan-South Korea joint seminar held in 1996. The next conference is scheduled to be held in autumn 1998, with other NGOs in the receiving countries expected to participate. In this session, the draft Chapter will be discussed from perspectives specific to receiving countries, and the Asian regional network is expected to be enlarged and aligned.
For further information contact:
People's Action Network to Monitor Japanese TNCs
Kiyose Catholic church,
1-21-12, Matsuyama, Kiyose-shi, Tokyo 204-0022, Japan
E-mail: JAC01227@nifty serve.or.jp
JOSHRC NEWSLETTER No.13 (Jan, 1998)
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