Adopted at the Asian workshop on: 'Issues Facing Women Workers in Informal Work' held in Bangkok on November 8, 2001, organized by Committee for Asian Women and HomeNet(Thailand)

We are representatives form 11 Asian countries representing women and men workers involved in different typed of work situation ?home based work, street vending, domestic work, agricultural work, handicraft work, scrap and rag-picking, small-scale factory work, part-time work, causal and contract work, construction work, among others.  We are from 12 trade unions, 2membership-based organizations, 8 NGOs and 3 networks.

A large proportion of the workforce is involved in the informal economy. Informal work contributes socially useful services and a significant proportion of global income. Official statistics indicate that the share of informal (non-agricultural) work is 45-85% in Latin America to 45-85% in different parts of Asia. The contribution of the income that comes form informal work dot national income amounts to between 30-60% in different countries. Most new jobs are being created in the informal economy. This growth in the informal economy is directly related to the acceleration of the process of globalization. These processes of globalization have affected both the workers in the formal and the informal economy. Workers in the formal economy have been increasingly reduced to the status of workers in the informal economy. This crowding into the informal economy has rendered workers in the informal economy even more vulnerable and with even less resources.

The conditions of workers in the informal economy are characterized by not just abysmal working conditions, but very often also by their appalling living conditions. This is even more true of women. The conditions of work of the workers in the informal economy include: non-recognition of the work and of the workers in informal employment, very low incomes; very long hours of work; insecure work; unsafe and dangerous work; no benefits; no leave or holidays; no accident or any other benefits; sexual and other harassment; no child care.

Apart fro invisibility, poor working and living conditions, and the absence of social protection, workers in the informal economy also suffer from a severe lack of access to productive assets and other resources, land, credit, marketing and technological assistance, education and training.

We, the assembled representatives, resolve to:
l        Organize and support each other in our organizing efforts;
l        Act in solidarity on common issues;
l        Build public awareness and visibility of the workers we represent;
l        Lobby public authorities and other institutions in society for our common interest;
l        Strengthen the capacity of our organizations through appropriate education programs;
l        Collate and disseminate best practices of strategies of organizations.

Posted by KWWA
Silver Jubilee Celebrations of Committee for Asian Women (CAW) and The Asian Women Workers Festivals (AWWF) 2002
Organized by Bangkok Metropolitan Authority (BMA) and The Working Committee of AWWF 2002

Women have always for several centuries bee the backbone of society and the economy-both the paid and the unpaid economy. Women have always worked. Even today women are said to produce 80% of the food for the world. When economies began to industrialize over a century ago, women were an important part of the economy. However, it was around the 1960s and later, with export-oriented industrialization that women became the main contributors to the economy all over the world, including Asia.

The last four decades have witnessed young girls from the rural hinterlands of Asia being transformed into mature, responsible and adult women workers. More often than not women workers have been denied their rightful share of their fruits of labour. Women have been denied labour as well as human rights. Women have been denied a fair wage. They have had to live in basic insecurity of livelihood, incomes and a tomorrow.

Women make up 45 % of the paid workforce and do almost 95% of very crucial but unpaid work ?giving birth to and looking after the children, cooking, cleaning and making a home out of a house. Yet, women constituted 70% of the world뭩 population living in poverty. Women and girls I several countries of Asia have been denied the basic right to education.  Two-thirds of the illiterate populations of the world consist of women.  

Middle-aged women in East Asia have experienced blatant discrimination in employment.

Southeast Asian women workers have braved loss of jobs through retrenchment as well as lack of social security.

In South Asia, women face discrimination right from cradle to grave. Girls are denied education and training while boys are encouraged to advance in education, even when they have no aptitude for it.  Denial to girls and women in India can often go to the extent of denying nutritious food to girls and women, while giving it to men and boys.

The recent phenomena in the half-decade see the increasing of retrenchment or unemployment.  Subcontracting is deployed to push women workers out of the formal economy. Thus, they are pushing more and more out of the formal economy to the informal economy throughout the Asian region. Women worker leaders and the union뭩 members were unfair treated and retrenched so that their organization can be destroyed. Women suffered family pressure, violence and health deteriorated with the increasing of economic difficulties and poverty. In some countries in Asia there is increased militarization and this brings with it the systematic use of violence against women. For example, in Burma increased military spending means decreased budget for basic amenities like health and education.

CAW and her network groups, this, demand for employment and job security, legal protection for the informal economy, social security protection and a right to livelihood without harassment and victimization.

Women workers have resolutely, collectively, and individually, stood for defending their rights. It is this spirit and optimism that we are sharing and celebrating by getting women workers form different Asian countries together and by crating space for the cultural expression of these women workers?organizations and troupes.

Salute to Women Workers?Struggle in Asia!
Posted by KWWA
Presentation of the work of CAW: 2000 _ 2002

Objectives of CAW
-  Assist in consciousness raising among women workers in the formal and informal sectors in Asia towards the realization of commonalities of their situations, problems and analysis.
-  Support efforts of organized women workers to effect favourable changes in their lives.
-  Facilitate networking and linkages among women workers and related groups within Asia and with other regions for solidarity support.
-  To be the regional platform for women workers in Asia, to facilitate and /or represent the voice of women workers in Asia.

Main Areas of Work
-  Local / National joint programs
-   Regional / sub-regional programs
-  Advocacy and Campaign
-  Solidarity Support Actions and Networking
-  Publication and documentation

I. Introduction and context:
The work for the years 2000 - 2 was visualized and detailed out in the context of the changing nature of women뭩 work and of industrialization at the global as well at the regional level and hence the changing needs of organizations and networks working with women workers.

While due to several processes and structures, women workers have been a section that has been one of the most disadvantaged and discriminated against, these disadvantages and types and levels of discrimination take on very different forms and proportions in different situations and phases of social and economic development. The movement of capital and the strategies of capital are changing rapidly. While capital is being pumped in certain areas, it is being quickly dried out in other areas. Often however, the impact of both these developments is not one of uniform empowerment or disempowerment for women. These developments have had contradictory impacts on workers, especially women workers. Even the strategies of capital in areas where new and large investment is taking is one of deployment of 멹lexible?labour where capital is responsible for no more than the daily or worse still measly piece rate wage of the workforce.  

Just to illustrate one aspect of this phenomenon, our work indicated to us that the years 2000-2001 brought to women workers in different regions very different outcomes. For example, while the Mekong region witnessed a relatively large influx of capital, in countries like Bangladesh, that had witnessed a similar influx in an earlier phase, women workers are now losing jobs every day due to closure of the very industries that had proliferated in an earlier phase ?garments, for example.  

In the present context of globalization, the nature of employment as well as of work generally is undergoing radical changes. Women workers have always been in the lower rungs of the employment and work hierarchy. The present phase seems to have targeted women workers in different ways. One of this has been the growing extent of informalization of work women seem to be involved in.

Hence, it was decided to be more inclusive and widen the active concerns of CAW to include women workers in the informal economy and to look at the structures and processes of informalization of women workers. We also decided to adopt a strategy of multiple methodologies that would give our partners and us some valuable insights into some of the problems and possible solutions to an important aspect of women workers situation in the current context.

With regard to CAW too there have been several changes, including in its structure, in this period. These changes have had serious implications on the personnel of CAW as well as the administration issues in CAW.

The above situation meant an extension of our concerns and constituency. This is one important reason why the EXCO and the Secretariat of CAW had to be sensitive to the increasing requests from our network groups, who were in the field and responding to the changing situation and changing needs of women workers. This in effect meant increasing the number of national programs from the 3 we had envisaged to the 7 programs that we had to respond to and participate in.  

It was in this light that the regional program of the informal economy was developed. Informal work and informal workers are not a new phenomenon. They have been in existence since the beginning of work itself. Even after industrialization and its development, informal work has co-existed with the formalization of the economy. In large parts of the economies of Asia and Africa for example, informal work has been the source of livelihood of the majority of workers. Even in East Asian countries, it was the forcible urbanization of economies and government policies that forced lower prices for agricultural products and policies of land use that turned large sections of people into industrial workers. Various policies of the State have been hugely responsible for the proliferation of informal work in different economies. While informal work has existed prior to the present phase of globalization, the processes of globalization have played a role in increasing the extent of the informal economy in various ways. Informal work is in fact the product of several factors and processes at varied points in time and at different levels. This is happening in very diverse in different countries, regions and sub-regions.

All these processes have posed special challenges for women and women뭩 work. The initial response to informal work by trade unions and other organizations had been that it was a transitory phenomenon that was a result of uneven development or underdevelopment. It was only when informal work and workers began to proliferate once more in the developed industrialized countries and the process from informal to formal did not seem to take place, rather the contrary was taking place, that attention began to once more be focused on informal work. This is the context in which the newer debates are being conducted.

CAW had been working on the issue of women workers for more than 20 years. We have attempted to address the issue of informal sector from a different perspective. These last three years have been attempts by CAW to respond to the network groups in this rapidly changing situation in the context of the changing phases of globalization and their varied impacts on women workers, their work and their organizational strategies and attempts.
II. Structure of this report:
In the beginning itself we will look at the tasks involved in the administering of a regional network like CAW. CAW has been constantly attempting to cope with the task of innovating structures in the context of running a regional organization in the midst of current challenges. The Executive Committee meets at least once a year and keeps in constant touch with the secretariat to steer the work of CAW.

The organizational aspects are followed by a chronological and thematic report of our activities and achievements. This is followed by the challenges faced by CAW as a network and the challenges that we all face in the current context. We need to deal with all these together.

III. Executive Committee Meetings:
The Executive Committee meetings of CAW are meetings where the general direction of the organization is reviewed and reworked. This is also the forum where broader political events and impacts are discussed as also issues that pertain to the smooth day-to-day running of the organization. Ideally, the Exco meets every once a year and does the work of critically reviewing the past year and planning for the next year. Only in times of emergencies does the Exco meet more often.  

In the year 2000, the EXCO meeting was held after the Regional Consultation Meeting to finalize the three-year plan (2001-2003) based on the suggestions and recommendations from the network members during the Consultation meeting. The Exco meeting decided on a few major changes in CAW. These are:
-   Rights of network members: The network members have the right to elect Exco members from each sub-region.
-   The criteria of CAW's network members were spelled out.
The Exco members appointed Ms. Irene Xavier from Malaysia as the Chairperson of CAW for a term of three years.

As stated earlier, there is supposed to be 1 EXCO meeting every year. However, due to technical problems of moving to Bangkok as well as other staff and administrative matters, in the year 2000, there had to be 2 EXCO meetings, one in January and the second in February 2001.
First meeting on 7-8 Jan 2001 in Seoul
This first meeting was an annual meeting of the Executive Committee. In the meeting, the committee adopted the financial report 2000. Then the secretariat presented the annual report 2000 for the committee to comment on. This was followed by a discussion on the activity plan of 2001 and CAW's vision, role and relocation.

Program discussion
In the meeting, the secretariat and the Committee shared the same understanding on the situation of the women workers resulting from globalization of corporate investment. Therefore the committee decided to support five national programs in 2001, namely from Kansai Union in Japan, UCM in Indonesia, SEWA from India, Women's Center in Sri Lanka and Women Link in South Korea. The reason for this decision has been discussed at length in the section on the national programs.  

The committee also decided that CAW would co-organize the regional consultation meeting on the informal economy. The objective of this program was capacity building for advocacy and lobbying.

Structure of the organization
The meeting had a discussion on the administrative difficulties facing CAW. In order to solve the visa problem of the overseas staff and the non-availability of US dollar account, the Executive Committee proposed to relocate the coordinator back to Hong Kong and decentralize the staff. This would mean that the program staff would work from the country they come from. The committee decided to bring this matter to discuss with the partners in Germany in February. As the new structure required new staff, the criteria of new staff were also discussed in the meeting. Then the Committee scheduled the date for the advertisement of the positions.

The meeting endorsed the amendments in the By-laws. These included
-  Membership Qualifications
-  Procedures for becoming a network member
-  Disaffiliation of network groups
-  Procedures for disaffiliation
-  Rights of network groups and
-  Roles and responsibilities of network groups.

The second Executive Committee on 24-25 Feb 2001
As there was a negative response from the partners on the issue of the relocation back to Hong Kong, the secretariat had to remain in Bangkok. The objective of this meeting was making a decision on the structure of the secretariat.
The meeting began with an update of the administrative situation from the secretariat.
-  The one-year US dollar bank account was granted by the Bangkok Bank. CAW would have to renew it every year. If CAW wanted to withdraw more than US$5000, CAW would have to submit supporting documents.
-  The visa for oversea staff: CAW could apply for visas under CAW foundation after August 2001 when CAW foundation had completed one year of registration.

After the update, the committee endorsed the new structure of the secretariat. Under the new structure, the program coordinator, publication staff and the administrative staff would be based in Bangkok. While the two program officers would be based in their own countries. The meeting discussed the long-term goals and laid out the division of work among the staff. Finally, the meeting carried out interviews for new staff; one coordinator and two program officers were hired in 2001.

In the year 2002, the Executive Committee met for 3 days in February. During the meeting, several decisions were taken:
1.        The arrangement of the left over money from the three years project 1998 to 2001. It was decided that the secretariat had to arrange the left over money according to the agreement with the partners. However we need to ask the partners if we could allocate the left over money as money carry forward to 2001 to 2003 due to the financial difficulties at the moment.
2.        The EXCO had endorsed the financial report 2001, budget 2002 and activities plan 2002.
3.        The secretariat had to follow up the EXCO members?renewal and election.
4.        The EXCO endorsed the hiring of Program staff for one year with the budget that was left from the 2001 vacant program officer budget.  

IV. Administration and Coordination
This aspect of CAW has seen a great deal of changes in the last three years. An important change has been the relocation of the CAW from Hong Kong to Bangkok. Though the actual relocation took place before the last consultation meeting, the adjustments are still in process. Some of the salient features of these changes and challenges are as follows:

As we had mentioned in the section on the Executive Committee meeting, a new structure of the secretariat was launched in March 2001. The main reason for change was the administrative difficulties in Thailand. The number of the staff remained five but the staff was decentralized in order to solve the visa problem. The new structure is listed as follows:
-  The Coordinator, administrative officer and the publication officer were located in the Bangkok head office.
-  The program staff would be based in their home country.
-  The secretariat will have their staff meetings every three months for updating the progress of the work and discussion work plan for the next three months.

The secretariat had started the recruitment process in January after the first executive meeting in January 2001. CAW had targeted to recruit four positions, one coordinator and two program officers for the EED, HIVOS and ICCO program of 2001 to 2003 and one program officer for the specific campaign on informal sector supported by Inter-Church Action from Canada. As the team support for the program officers would be less than before, the secretariat attempted to look for well-experienced women worker activists to fill in the post. Unfortunately, we had difficulties to get the ideal candidate to fill the position of one program officer. The post was vacant from January to October. We had the full team operating only from November 2001.  However as the publication officer had her maternity leave since August, we were under- staffed for the whole year.

Implication of new structure on administration
US dollar account
The US dollar account was granted in January 2001. Theoretically we can transfer US dollars and have US dollar cash with this US dollar account. However, from the experience of last one year뭩 operation, we found that we have to rely on the US dollar account in Hong Kong. It was because the US dollar account in Bangkok can only accept donations that come from EED, Germany. If we have any transaction other than from EED then we have to get an endorsement letter of the transaction from EED. Besides, this US dollar account in Bangkok subsists for only one year. We have to renew the bank account with the annual report on a yearly basis. Cash dollar withdrawals are another battle. With every withdrawal we have to provide sufficient information to support the withdrawal. For example, photocopies of the invoice of the expense and photocopies of the air ticket and passport of the participants. Because of all the hassle, we are not likely to use this US account as the main organizational bank account. It can only serve as a US dollar petty cash account in Bangkok with small amounts if money in it.

As a result, we had to keep US dollar accounts both in Hong Kong and Thailand. Hence we had to do audited financial reports in Hong Kong and Thailand as well.
Foundation registration and visa application of the overseas staff: In Thailand, work permit of the overseas staff of the foundation needs to be renewed on a yearly basis. The regulation states that the foundation can only apply for a visa for overseas staff after the completion of one year of registration. Therefore we can only start to apply for visas for the staff after August 2001, even though the coordinator had to report duty from May 2001. The office could only process her work permit after August 2001. It took almost two months for the process to be completed. As compared to past experience, this was considered to be an extremely successful outcome. The differences in experience may due to the discrimination toward different nationalities that is present in immigration policy and made even more difficult by the attitude of the immigration personnel.
By the end of 2001, due to the impact of September 11, a new policy of work visa application for NGOs was suggested by the government. In order to curtail the so-called terrorist activities, all the NGOs who get foreign funding would not be able to have foreign staff working in the organization. This has posed a threat for organizations like CAW that we would not be able to get work visas for overseas staff in Thailand. A network to fight against the new policy has been formed among the local and regional NGOs. CAW had actively participated in the activities to defend not only the autonomy of CAW but also the democratic space of the civil society as a whole.
Since the process of work permit and visa application, registration of the foundation, bank account application, bookkeeping and logistics of the local program have to be carried out by the administration officer, she has hardly any time for the accounting work of the organization. Therefore we had to hire a professional and well-experienced NGO accountant to work for us as a part-time accounting person.  

Evaluation of the structure:
The secretariat had reviewed the new structure in the November 2001 secretariat meeting. The positive and negative experiences have been summed up as the follows:
-  Program officers have closer links with local organizations. It is easier to access what happen on the ground.
-  Program officers found it easier to attend meetings and workshops near their own base or nearby.
-  Most of the well-experienced women activists in the region have several commitments, including that of the family. By deploying the decentralized structure, hassles of relocation or separation from the family are avoided. Therefore it might easier to get well-experienced staff.
-  The structure had increased the cost of the administration. For example, the communication cost was higher than last year.
-  The decentralized staff found it difficult to make decisions with long distance communication.
-  It was difficult to build up teamwork.
- All the administration work had fallen on the head office with only 3 persons.

Most of the staff expressed their preference to work physically together as a team. However as there were a great deal of difficulties ?right from getting visas to personal aspects, the team tried to work on the negative aspects and build the team based on the positive aspects.  

V. Programs / Projects / Activities

V. a. Local / National joint programs
As we can see from the Table below, the issues taken up by the Network Groups in their own regions are a very wide spectrum. They range from globalization and its different impacts to sexual harassment to organizing and trade unionism. These are all of course related as they pertain to the different issues women workers are facing in the region.

The general thrust of the network groups seem to be awareness raising. The methodologies used are also quite varied ?workshops, meeting, education and training, campaigns, mobilization and video production.      

2000: Organizations  Countries Themes Programs
Women's section, NFL  The Philippines Evaluation of women's organizing and training  National conference
Metropolitan Textile Labour Trade Union         Thailand         Globalization and occupational health and safety        Education and campaign
Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor        Malaysia        Address fear of Trade unionism         1.        Survey2.        Consultation
Da Bindu Collective        Sri Lanka        Awareness raising on rights and gender issues        Translation of resource book
All Nepal Women Association        Nepal        Impact of patriarchy and globalization        Leadership training
Yasanti and Humanika        Indonesia         Awareness raising on rights and gender issues        Leadership training
Korean Women Workers?Associations United        Korea        Awareness raising on rights and gender issues        Workshop
Pakistan institute of Labour Education and Research        Pakistan        Awareness raising on rights of informal sector women workers        Preparation of video
Joint Action Group Against Violence Against Women        Malaysia        Awareness raising on sexual harassment        Campaign
Nepal Centre Women Workers?Department        Nepal        Follow up of earlier program        1.        Leadership training2.        Publication3.        Mobilization4.        Research  

Organizations         Countries         Themes         Programs
Kansai Women Worker Union        Japan        Awareness raising on situation of temporary public workers        Preparation of video
Friends of Women         Thailand         Setting up trade union for laid off women workers        1.        Education and campaign2.        Vocational training
Urban Community Mission        Batam, Indonesia        Awareness raising on rights        Training program
NFL        The Philippines        Evaluation of women뭩 organizing and training        1.        Consultations 2.        Nat. conference3.        Advocacy4.        Education and training
Women뭩 Centre        Sri Lanka        Building collectivity among women workers        1.        Training2.        Education
Women Link        Korea         Awareness about sexual harassment        1.        Training2.        Networking
Self Employed Women뭩 Association        India         Awareness raising on legal rights         Para-legal training of women worker activists
Self Employed Women뭩 Association        India         Rehabilitation support for women workers        1.        Rebuild survival tools of women workers2.        Re-establish markets
Da Bindu        Sri Lanka        Awareness raising on rights        1.        Publication of booklets2.        Discussions

Up to mid 2002:
Organizations         Countries         Themes         Programs
Working Women뭩 Organization        Pakistan        Awareness Raising Workshop On Gender Sensitization        Workshop
National Federation of Labor (NFL)         The Philippines        Capacity building of women unionists in the NFL for election in the union        1.        Research2.        Policy intervention3.        Dissemination of research
Metropolitan Textile Trade Union         Thailand        Impact of globalization on women workers, labour laws and struggles        1.        Education programs2.        Campaign
Sahabat Wanita        Malaysia        Awareness raising on rights         Campaign against massive retrenchments
Solidarity Front of Women Worker         Taiwan        Develop mutual supporting network for the marginalized groups        1.        Training2.        Exploring market alternatives3.        Setting up alternative structures
Women뭩 Link        Korea        Awareness raising on rights and gender issues        1.        Campaign2.        Education

V. b. Sub-regional / Regional programs:
The sub-regional and regional programs of CAW aim to draw upon the commonalities of the region / sub-regions. Here the focus seems to be on the different 뻚irect and indirect ?impact of economic processes in the region and the sub-regions.

At one level is the concern with broader structures -- patriarchy and capitalism. These include problems of feminization of poverty and of casualization processes, as well as sexual harassment. At another level is the theme of the current phase within these structures ?informalization, liberalization. At the third level is the concern with strategies for organizing and for coping. Lastly, is the need for CAW as a regional organization to reach regions that are newly emerging as large areas where there exist immense possibilities for organizing women workers.  

Sub-regions         Themes         Programs         Location
East Asia        Organizing strategies to challenge job insecurity / unemployment of women workers in Asia         Sub-regional workshop         Taiwan
Regional         CAW뭩 Regional Consultation         Meeting        Thailand
Regional         The impact of globalization and informalization on women workers        Regional program         Korea
Network meeting         `Patriarchy and Feminization of the workforce?        CAW network meeting         Korea.
ASEM?People뭩 Forum meeting        `The impact of trade liberalization on women workers?in Korea.        People뭩 Forum meeting         Korea.
Regional training         Gender perspectives in organizing women workers         CAW Regional training         Malaysia.
South-East Asia         Issues faced by women workers and alternative strategies         South-East Asia workshop         Indonesia
Regional consultation         Women workers in informal work         Consultation         Thailand.
Mekong region         Sexual Harassment         Workshop         Thailand
Training of Burmese migrants        Training of Burmese migrants        Training         Thailand

V. c. Advocacy and Campaign:
Like the sub-regional and regional programs of CAW, advocacy and campaign aim to draw upon the commonalities of the region / sub-regions. Here too the focus seems to be on the different 뻚irect and indirect ?impact of economic processes in the region and the sub-regions. However, advocacy and campaigning also has specificities of the country where the processes seem to be unfolding in. At one level are advocacy and campaign attempts at the sub-regional / regional / global level; at another level are campaigns at the national level. These are often inter-connected; but may not always be connected directly.

Organization         Country         Theme         Forum
        Thailand        UNCTAD X         Participation in the NGO plenary caucus
        Thailand        UNCTAD X         Participation in the NGO Forum
        Thailand        UNCTAD X         UNCTAD X official forum
Thai Durable textile workers.         Thailand         Advocacy and campaign to protect the rights of the Thai Durable textile workers        National level
        Regional/international        To know about the processes in the ILC        International Labour Conference 2001
        Regional /international         Participation in the general discussion on the `informal economy?        International Labour Conference
Groups in Indonesia        Indonesia        National campaign on women in the informal economy         National campaign
Groups in Thailand        Thailand        National campaign on women in the informal economy         National campaign
Groups in Korea        Korea        National campaign on women in the informal economy         National campaign

V. d. Women Solidarity Support Actions:

Year         Organization and country        Program
2000        Women workers from the Elfa spinning textile, Thailand        Supporting the court case
        Thai women workers        Solidarity support to raise their own issues during the Asian Development Bank Forum in Thailand
2001        The Thai Labour Campaign, Thailand        Support worker to participate in The Forum of Alliance Against Globalization in Hong Kong
        Asian Network for the Rights of Occupational Accident Victims (ANROAV), Bangkok         For support for meeting in Bangkok
2002        Bethune House, Hong Kong        Campaign against wage cut
        With the sub-regional network of Mekong        Sexual Harassment at the workplace
        TACAB        Gender training workshop for Burmese migrant worker in Thailand
        7 groups in total (funded by Oxfam HK)        Exposure trip for the Chinese group in BKK

V. e. Solidarity Linkage and Networking

Conferences attended:

Location        Purpose        Date
Cambodia        Consultation meeting on the Mekong sub-region network to combat violence against women        January 2000
Laos        Follow up meeting of the Cambodia meeting        April 2000
Germany        Workshop on women workers in the informal sector        June 2000

Location        Purpose        Date
Bangkok        Health and safety discussion by ANROAV        6 ?9 May
Geneva        ILC 2001        9-20 June
Bombay, India        Sexual harassment national workshop        3-6 June 2001
Australia        People뭩 globalization versus corporate globalization by APRN        26-30 Sept
Taiwan        Conference on globalization on anti-globalization        1-2 Sept
Malaysia        ILO workshop on sexual harassment at work placeTraining on leadership by MTUC         2-4 October
Bangkok        Garment Research, organized by WWW        16-19Nov
Bangkok        v        CEDAW training for NGOv        Code of Conduct, organized by DAGAv        Asian TNC watch by AMRC v        HOMENET Thailand national meetingv        Thailand National bill for health and Safetyv        Meet with National Human Rights Commission and Deputy minister of labour and social welfare on the Thai Krieng case        1-3 Nov29-30Nov,1-2 Dec.NovemberNovNov
Bombay        ?nbsp;       Alternative strategies for unions?nbsp;       Umbrella legislation for informal workers?nbsp;       Sexual harassment ?nbsp;       Plants closure        6- 8 Dec. 200112th Dec 2001Dec. 200127th Dec 2001

Location        Purpose        Date
Ahmedabad, India        Meeting organized by WIEGO about women workers in informal employment        Jan 2002
Hyderabad, India        Meeting of NGOs and unions working with domestic workers        Feb 2002
Netherlands        Meeting organized by IRENE about women workers in informal employment        April 2002
V. f. National Visits:

Year         Country         Purpose
        Nepal         Follow-up national program
        Indonesia         Attend national program
        The Philippines        Strengthen links
        Hong Kong        East Asia program discussion; informal sector discussion
        India         Attending meetings; regional program discussion
        Indonesia and Medan        South East Asia program discussion
        The Philippines        South East Asia program discussion
        Thailand        South East Asia program discussion
        Taiwan        East Asia program discussion
        Sri Lanka        South Asia program discussion
        Cambodia        Contacting Mekong network
        Korea         East Asia program discussion; study of situation of financial crisis
2002        Nepal        National program discussion; meet new groups
        Bangladesh        National program discussion; meet new groups

VI. Documentation, Research and Publication

VI. a. Manual on globalization for women workers
In 1998 CAW produced a video tilted 밆olls and Dusts? It was a video documentary on the impact of economic restructuring on Asian women workers. To accompany the video, a manual was also envisaged. This manual was meant for women activists to understand the issues / debates about globalization and the processes and events as narrated in the video. The manual, also titled 밆olls and Dusts?published in December 2000, not only examines the impact of industrial restructuring on women workers, but also includes analyses and perspectives of certain Asian researchers and activists, besides women workers about 밽lobalization,?about 밽lobalization and the gender division of labour?as well as 뱒trategies for change?  

As a follow-up of this project, we are currently in the process of designing a training manual for women worker activists to use as a guide to generate awareness among women workers on the issues and implications of Globalization.
Purpose of the manual
?nbsp;       To deepen the understanding of women workers regarding the process of       globalization and its impact on their lives.
?nbsp;       To help the women workers understand the critical debates taking place concerning the responses and alternatives to globalization.

VI. b. Urgent Appeals
The Urgent Appeals that CAW has received from 2000 to 2002 from her networks and contacts in Asia and to which we have responded are as follows:

1.        Thai Durable Workers?request for government intervention to resolve disputes over unjust and inhumane practices of and illegal dismissals by the management in Thailand.  
2.        Protest against the unjust and inhumane practices of the management of Master Toy Co. Ltd. in Thailand.  
3.        Protest against the unfair payment and welfare of the Garment Manufacturers?Association in Cambodia.
4.        Protest against the unfair practices of the management and gross violations of basic labour standards of the Kalayaan Arts and Crafts Inc., a German owned company in the Philippines.  
5.        Protest against the denial of compensation fund to workers in the Zhilli fire.

1.        Daewoosa Samoa Garment factory on the island of American Samoa.  
2.        Ladybird Garment Factory in Bangkok, Thailand.
3.        Almond Jewelry workers, Bangkok Thailand.
4.        International Garment Manufacturing Corp, The Philippines.
5.        Two Urgent Appeals from SUARAM, Malaysia in August 2001 about the detention of political activists under ISA.
6.        Workers?struggle and repression of workers and trade unionists in Pakistan in August 2001.
7.        A fire in a factory in India where 7 young workers, including 2 women died in August 2001.
8.        Gina Bra factory in Thailand, where union members were sacked in November 2001. {DETAILS OF THE IST 4 ABOVE NEED TO BE WRITTEN. MABEL, COULD YOU DO THAT? I DO NOT HAVE THE DETAILS.}

VI. c.  Asian Women Workers?Newsletter

Issues published:
1.        CAW뭩 regional consultation
2.        Sexual harassment
3.        Labour movement
4.        Changing patterns of women employment

Issues published:
1.        Patriarchy and feminization of the workforce
2.        Globalization, economic integration and inequalities
3.        Health and Safety
4.        Alternative strategies on organizing

Up to mid 2002:
Issues published:
1.        Women and the informal economy
2.        Sexual Harassment at the workplace
3.        Labour Contracts

VI. d. Documentation and dissemination of information:
From the very inception, CAW has put great emphasis on disseminating information about the situation of women workers. CAW has been maintaining a library of periodicals, books, research reports, newsletters etc. for use by NGOs, researchers, students, academics and interested individuals.

With the advent of the electronic mail, CAW has also been actively using the e-mail to advocate women workers?issues. CAW has also developed a website and currently is in the process of upgrading the website and making it more accessible to people. A plan is also underway to develop an electronic database on women workers.

VII. Achievements
The achievements of CAW are also or mainly the achievements of its network groups and of the women workers the NGs work with. Some of these achievements we have attempted to relate in the words of Network Groups themselves as far as possible. We have not included all the comments of all the Network Groups; only a few representative ones from each sub-region and about different types of programs taken up by CAW.

According to the Kansai Women뭩 Union, Japan:
The members from KWU found the process of production of the video supported by CAW very educational. By interviewing the women workers, writing the script of the video and editing the video, they could understand more on the situation of the part time workers. Moreover the members expressed that the project helped them to develop new skills.

The video had been shown in many "lay-off ceremonies"  as an illustration of the policy of the "temporary public workers".   The video was well received by the "temporary public workers", the trade unions and the community in Kansai area as well.  The KWU is exploring the possibility of showing the video on the community TV station.?br />
According to Women뭩 Centre, Sri Lanka:
`The general health condition of the workers who participated in the program to assist the empowerment of women workers through building collectivity among women in FTZs showed signs of improvement. Besides the workers also set up an informal network. They can discuss their problems in the network.  It helped to strengthen the organizing base in the area.?br />
Women뭩 Link from South Korea:
`A module for lecturing on education and counseling on the issue of sexual harassment at work place was produced. It served a very important role in raising consciousness and guiding the women workers to challenge harassers at the workplace. The project also provided the national network an opportunity to exchange information and share their experiences to confront cases of sexual harassment. It also brought the strong solidarity between local and central women뭩 groups together to tackle the problem especially in dealing with cases of a serious nature.?nbsp; 

SEWA from India:
`CAW ad hoc support was utilized for providing the women workers who were affected by the earthquake to rebuild their survival tools, as many of them were home-based workers. Some of the support was also utilized to teach women new skills. SEWA also tried to re-establish markets for the traditional handicrafts of the women. This included both national and international markets. In some places, basic infrastructure had to be built in order for women to start their livelihood activities. In some cases, the houses of the women workers had to be either re-built or mended. Some women had to buy livestock and equipment. The ad-hoc support of CAW was utilized for some of these purposes.?br />
Yasanti and Humanika from Indonesia:
The leadership training for women workers was helpful in the following ways:
`1. Understanding about the root of the problems faced by women workers.
2. Publication of useful training manuals.
3. Increased confidence among activists
4. A detailed follow up plan was worked out that included advocacy and lobbying, leadership programs etc.?br />
About the South East Asia program:
`The workshop on Alternative Strategies was helpful in pointing new dimensions for discussions among the participants and their organizations on the issue of organizing. Many of the participants were unfamiliar with the actual struggles that had been waged of issues like equal pay for equal work. They were also not very conversant with strategies like organizing the unemployed workers.?br />
About the Regional program:
The Regional program was a workshop on women workers in informal employment. According to the evaluation forms from the participants, many groups had participated in the regional conference for the first time. They reflected that it was a good experience to learn the situation of the women workers in other countries. It helped them to formulate the strategies on organizing and lobbying for policy change in their own context. Moreover for many of them, this was the first conference that focused on discussions on the issue of informal economy in Asia. It helped the groups to link up the issue of informal economy workers on the national, regional and international level to issues of globalization and socio-economic and political processes. Besides, the participants found that the presentations from SEWA and ILO were very useful in terms of organizational development, advocacy and lobbying. Most of the participants also found the information pack prepared by CAW to be very useful.?br />
This year CAW was also able to organize a workshop on Sexual Harassment at the workplace together with a women뭩 network in the Mekong region, an area relatively new not just for CAW, but also for women뭩 organizing and for NGO work in general.  

VIII. Challenges
There are several challenges that the present situation has posed for all of us. They emanate out of the changes in the situation of women workers and in the balance of power that this has meant. Some of the challenges relate to the difficulties in doing what we were doing already. For example, organizing women workers has become more challenging now with the site of women뭩 work itself having changed. This has several implications and new ways of organizing are being explored. This means both redefining strategies as well as attempts at evolving new analytical tools to grapple with some of these challenges.

Besides, there have been changes in the global situation and in the situation of many countries, e.g., the Indo-China region as well as China and Central Asia. These were regions CAW had not ventured into at all and there are more and more women뭩 organizations that are wanting to relate to CAW.    

Here we have attempted to consolidate the experience of the past and plan for the future. We at the Secretariat have tried to summarize valuable opinions from all the discussions and cull out the possible paths ahead as well as the tasks and challenges this path is likely to throw up. This is in no way an exhaustive list; however, it provides us with a certain focus that would help us in our work of planning for the future.  

Strengthen grassroots organizing
The declaration from the Manila conference in 1977 clearly stated important concerns regarding the well being of women workers in the Asian region. Since then, CAW has been working with this mandate for the past 25 years. Our efforts to facilitate women workers' organizing and empowerment of women workers for leadership have certainly remained the main focus of our work and would do so in the future as well.

Learning from women workers
Even more important purpose and role of CAW have been and will be to learn from women workers, their situation, their lives and their strategies. Capitalism and patriarchy have several common features all over the world. However, the way these systems operate in the lives of women is different in different societies, depending on a whole range of factors. And it is in these different circumstances that women workers live and concretize their strategies. These may be coping strategies or changing strategies. Women workers, whether they are organized into recognizable forms of collectives or not, have a great deal to offer each other and others in terms of what lessons they draw from their experiences in working, organizing, struggling and living. We in CAW as well as in different networks have a great deal to learn from women workers.  
Redefining strategies
However throughout the past three decades, there have been phenomenal changes in the world. The situation of women workers has not changed much; however the problems are more complicated now.

Production is no long necessarily carried out in factories or in one standard set-up. Production is much more decentralized. It may be carried out at home, in small sweatshops, it may be divided into tedious assembly line steps. Besides, the employment relationship has been made more and more opaque; in some cases it seems almost invisible. All these mechanisms are aimed at and result in the avoidance of labour protection and labour rights. In this situation, the strategies that organizations and unions deploy are often not effective enough. This is partly because they are not based on informed choices as the organizations at the grassroots level may not be informed enough about the wider level changes taking place.

Education and training as important focal points
It is with this perspective that concerns are expressed that, CAW needs to develop education programs that can help women workers understand the complexity of situation and the problems. It is often tough to explain the situation or the reasons for some things to women workers even when we understand the situation. Even if we explain, we find it hard to convince them to believe that it is true. This means there is need to train trainers as well.

Analysis as a tool
At a more basic level, the changes taking place at the local, sub-regional, regional and global levels are so many and in so many areas with such rapidity and complexity, that often even academicians who spend their entire lives unraveling these phenomenon, find it difficult to decipher the underlying forces and their implications for different sections of people. What we need are new concepts and new tools to understand crucial processes that are affecting us so deeply and irrevocably. Thus theoretical and conceptual work needs to go alongside work at the grassroots level and both need to inform and consult with each other.

Concretizing new strategies
It has been expressed very often that we need to continue to find new strategies to respond to new situations and to the more complicated phenomena of development in this new age. Women are all the time being marginalized. It is important to highlight the strategies taken up by some groups to struggle against this marginalization.

Besides, it is also becoming clearer to everybody on a daily basis that due to informalization of work, the identity of women workers has been challenged in radical ways. So old strategies may not work now. We may have to address the more daily life issues of women as a parent does. CAW has to find links with communities and address the daily life issues more.

New areas, new systems, new challenges
There is another big challenge from geopolitical point of view. In the past, CAW worked mainly in non-communist countries, as it was difficult to have NGO activities in communist countries. After the mid-eighties, many communist countries in the region started to have an open door policy. Now, countries like Vietnam, Cambodia and China have a very different situation. Women workers in these countries once enjoyed relatively better social protection. However, after following the development model of the capitalist countries, especially of the East Asian countries, the women workers in these area are experiencing drastic changes. Their situation is similar in some senses to the women workers in the industrialized East Asian countries. However, due to their earlier history, there are significant differences as well. These are areas and systems that CAW is not used to working in. The organizing strategies and the alternatives would be different.

Forward-looking perspective
Many activists working with CAW have pointed out that CAW has always been forward-looking in terms of understanding issues in the global setup. Often the analysis has been too simplified. The situation is much more complex. The general analysis has often been rather simplified. We have often used similarities between the situations of women workers in different countries to explain the situation in all these countries. This may not be sufficient. CAW needs to encourage and support local groups to bring out these aspects.  There are not only similarities and differences between the conditions of women workers across countries; but even within a country, there are differences based on religion and ethnicity.

Holistic approach
Our understanding of women workers?issues needs to have a more holistic approach. We can no longer only collect information on the political, economic and social situation of different countries. We also have to equip ourselves with other analytical tools and provide a good analysis to formulate strategies on the global setup as well as the local specificities.  

Struggle against persistent patriarchy
Besides the struggle for livelihood and survival, there are continuous struggles against structures, instritutions and practices that downplay women뭩 issues in workers?issues and struggles. As mentioned  in the interviews with the women who have been involved in the work of CAW for a long time, it is important to see women workers "as women and as workers". This has always been a special point of concern for CAW ?how to balance between women뭩 issues and worker뭩 issues.  CAW had contributed this analysis from different aspects, such as, the misuse of sexuality by capitalism, unequal gender relationships in the family, gender discrimination in the labour market, in trade unions and in the society at large. This is also true in the more recent struggles against the impact of globalization. Women workers are once again becoming targets to be marginalized in the process of globalization. In these new circumstances, there is a need to sharpen our analytical tools in this arena as well.

Advocacy and lobbying
The issue of women workers?rights has been persistently pursued by CAW and sister organizations in different forums, at national as well as broader levels. We also need to sharpen our skills and networks on advocacy and lobbying.  

Lobbying and training
One area of concern for CAW has been the need to provide exchange and training opportunities to organizers in different areas. It has often been expressed that CAW has to promote women workers?concern and facilitate exchanges, especially with women workers?organizers who work at the local levels and may not be properly equipped with the understanding of the region. The training that we provide should go beyond the national level as it is time to engage at the international level.

All-round strengthening of local efforts and organizing
It also needs to be recognized that in Asia, in many places there are many women workers?struggles. Some groups are big and some are small. CAW needs to strengthen these groups and push forward the agenda of women workers in all fora. There is a need to strengthen these groups against the processes of informalization. But only strengthening the groups is not enough. CAW also needs to coordinate with her friends and help the groups to access resources. CAW should network with people who lobby for women workers and people who are in a position to make or influence policies. They should be included into CAW뭩 structure as consultants. Such support systems are needed. These people will be more resourceful in using information to do effective work.

Therefore the need for training and understanding international mechanisms, networking with high level lobbying groups, research on the situation of informal sectors, training for grass root organizers on lobbying at the national and international level are new challenges for us all.  
Broader alliances  
The situation and movement of women workers is closely related to other progressive movements, like the women뭩 movement, the workers?movement, the union movement, the human rights movement etc. All these movements are undergoing serious changes. These changes themselves bring forth a very new spectrum of challenges and opportunities.

The relationship between for example the labour movement and the concerns for women workers?issues has not always been a non-contradictory one. The issue of overt and covert discrimination against women workers has not always been important for the trade union movement. At this juncture, the trade union movement is losing ground and losing membership. On the other hand, women workers are coming into the labour market in large numbers and proportions. How new alliances as well as old alliances on a new footing will be forged in the coming period has to be negotiated in practice as well. This will be an important moment for the network groups and other groups CAW is working with. A moment that is full of new challenges and seamless opportunities.  

Posted by KWWA
Asian Civil Society Forum 2002
kwwa  2002-12-18 17:59:43, 조회 : 502

Asian Civil Society Forum 2002
UNCC, Bangkok / December 9 to 13, 2002

UN/NGO Partnerships for Democratic Governance:
Building Capacities and Networks for
Human Rights and Sustainable Development

Final Statement

(Final version adopted on Dec. 13, 2002)


1.        We, more than 500 participants of Asian Civil Society Forum (ACSF) 2002, representing over 200 local, national, regional and international NGOs from more than 33 countries of the Asian region and the rest of the world gathered in Bangkok, Thailand, from 9 to13 December 2002, to participate in the Asian Civil Society Forum (ACSF) 2002 on the theme, 밬N/NGO Partnerships for Democratic Governance: Building Capacities and Networks for Human Rights and Sustainable Development?  The Forum was convened by the Conference of NGOs in consultative relationship with United Nations (CONGO) under its Working Group on Outreach to Asia (WGOA) and was held at the United Nations Conference Centre of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

2.        In convening the Forum, the CONGO was implementing its mandate to increase the participation of NGOs and other organizations in developing countries whose contributions are essential to realizing our vision of a truly inclusive global community. The ACSF 2002, envisaged as a multi-dimensional, multi-sectoral and multi-faceted process and event, was organized to contribute to developing a conceptual and practical framework for civil society actors in formulating and advancing their advocacy strategies at national, regional and global levels.

3.        We come from countries with diverse cultures and religions, different levels of social and economic development, political systems and environmental conditions.  Some of our countries suffer from internal conflicts and external threats, while others have enjoyed relative peace and stability for a long time. Some of our countries suffered from the 1997-98 financial crisis, while others were able to protect themselves against the ravages of global finance. Some of our countries are classified by the United Nations as 뱇east developed countries? while others are more economically advanced. Yet, despite all these differences (and the tensions that sometimes exist between our governments), through the ACSF, we had the opportunity to share our common concerns and aspirations, and how we can forge partnerships and build solidarity across the region to promote the goals of peace, human rights, justice, truth and reconciliation, equity, sustainable development and environmental protection.

Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

4.        We affirm the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), based on the commitments made by the largest gathering of heads of State at the Millennium Assembly in December 2000.  We have examined implementation of MDGs from the perspective of a rights-based approach with the principle of sustainability and aim to promote them in a consistent, coherent and intentional manner.  At a time when global decision-making in economic and social affairs has become much less democratic, and transparent, while the resources and influence of the UN have eroded and the power and mandate of the IMF, the World Bank, and the WTO have expanded, a rights-based approach with the principle of sustainability would help ensure the needed stability and symmetry necessary for democratic governance.

5.        As we learned how to make more effective use of our UN consultative relationship, we also reflected critically on how UN-NGO partnerships can promote implementation of the MDGs. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in his message to ASCF 2002, stated: 밒n Asia, the region with the largest portion of the world뭩 population, your efforts to strengthen civil society뾞nd to build links among Asian civil society organizations뾥old considerable promise not only for making progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, but also for strengthening your voice in international fora, including the United Nations.?

Global Democratic Governance and Civil Society

6.        We looked into the outcomes and the commitments made at all the major UN World Conferences and Summits of the past decade, especially the more recent ones such as the World Conference Against Racism (Durban, August 31 to September 8, 2001), the International Conference on Financing for Development (Monterrey, Mexico, March 18 to 22, 2002) and the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Johannesburg, August 26 to  September 4, 2002), as well as the forthcoming World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).  In achieving the goals set by these conferences, the work and contribution of civil society organizations and NGOs are vital.  These include reviewing current practices, prioritising policy reforms, identifying means of policy implementation, monitoring and evaluation.

7.        We, in recognizing that a gender perspective has not fully been mainstreamed into all these events and their subsequent follow-up, commit ourselves to work towards the development of a coherent policy of gender mainstreaming that is inter-generational into all our advocacy policies and strategies.

8.        We affirm the challenges coming from youth who are agents of social and political transformation, and strongly encourage and support their participation at all levels.  

9.        We recognize the importance of improving education, both formal and non-formal, for human rights, tolerance, non-violence and sustainable development and in injecting ethical values and the spiritual dimension of building sustainable communities.

UN Reform and Civil Society

10.        Having considered the Report of the Secretary General on 밪trengthening of the UN: An Agenda for Further Change? within the context of 밷uilding partnerships? we appreciate the strong recognition of the role of civil society and non-governmental organizations in the implementation of the goals of the UN.  However, we are also aware that there are efforts by some member States to arbitrarily curtail the voice of civil society and this should be vehemently opposed.  Serious concerns have also been expressed at ACSF 2002 regarding possible efforts at rationalizing UN information centres, and further clarification and dialogue was called for regarding new initiatives to reform human rights treaties?reporting frameworks.

11.        The holding of regional civil society forums, such as ACSF 2002, strengthens UN-NGO relations in a manner that brings the UN closer to the levels where real action takes place, and at the same time demonstrates that efforts to reinforce UN-NGO partnerships can be done in multiple and creative ways that effectively complement our work at UN meetings in New York, Geneva, Nairobi and Vienna. This kind of initiative also provides one avenue to address the perennial concerns about inadequate participation of NGOs from developing countries.

12.        We appreciate the message of the UN Secretary General to ACSF 2002, that 밫he UN looks forward to strengthening this relationship ?from the front lines of conflict or national disaster; to places far from the spotlight where community and institutional development occur without much fanfare; to the conference halls where your ideas and passion enrich the official proceedings.?br />

Main Findings and Concerns

13.        After a week of intense discussions, debate and sharing of experiences, we have agreed to develop a framework for our advocacy strategies to pursue democratic governance at national, regional and global levels, bearing in mind that many Asian NGOs, particularly human rights organizations and human rights defenders operate under duress, especially in the context of anti-terrorism and internal security laws. This framework is firmly rooted in an integral approach to human rights and sustainable development which helped us to deal with the wide spectrum of issues that concern us all.

14.        On all these issues, we know that our analyses, programmes and policy recommendations must be systematically evaluated from the prism of a human rights and the intersectionality of perspectives that include, among several, race, gender, class, ethnicity, caste, age, disability and citizenship.

15.        It is our belief that by empowering women and the protection of their rights, we are also fostering the rights of children, especially the girl child, who remains most vulnerable as well as improving the well-being of whole communities and nations.

16.        The partnerships, alliances and coalitions we are developing are intended, among others, to foster effective mechanisms and means to hold our governments and international institutions accountable to the commitments they have made at global UN conferences, in addition to the host of legally-binding economic, social, cultural, civil and political human rights and environmental treaties and conventions they have signed and ratified .

17.        We are fully aware that UN commitments and obligations may remain unfulfilled if we do not join forces to combine a strategic use of our UN consultative relationship with undertaking national and region-wide campaigns and advocacy programmes to hold our governments accountable. In his message to ACSF 2002, the Secretary General urged us to hold our governments to the pledges they have made, particularly 뱖here commitment seems to flag?  Indeed, one of our key objectives is to share our capacities to analyse the patterns of our national budget allocations in relation to what resources will be needed for our governments to meet the MDGs and other UN commitments such as Agenda 21. The duty of progressive realization of our peoples?human rights legally compels our governments to demonstrate meaningful steps in the right direction.

18.        When our governments fail to comply with the elementary duty to give us the political space and access to the information we need to carry out these tasks, we will call them to account for the violations of these rights and, in this regard, we expect the UN leadership to show uncompromising political and institutional support on our behalf.

19.        We know that much can be achieved through resource redistribution and changes in power relations at the national level. But it would be illusory to expect real progress without a major breakthrough on the 8th MDG, which focuses on international cooperation and where primary responsibility falls on developed countries.  On this front, despite civil society campaigns around the world뾣rom the global Jubilee movement to free the people of the poorest countries from the shackles of debt, to the struggle for just and equitable trade relations뾵e have seen little but minimal progress on these issues and a near absence of effective efforts by the leaders of the world뭩 economic powers. In this respect, we are convinced that we have to build stronger global coalitions among civil society organizations in developed countries if we are to make any meaningful reforms in the structures of global trade and finance.  Despite an evident crisis of legitimacy, the governments of developed countries continue serving vested and global corporate interests through the WTO, international financial institutions (IFIs), and in many instances, through their bilateral financial and trade relations with our countries .

20.        We must capitalize on the overtures made under the 8th MDG, i.e., moving from mere lip service to a major overhaul in the international cooperation paradigm. Genuine international cooperation, free from abuses of power and vested interests, is not a matter of charity but a legal obligation under the UN Charter and numerous human rights treaties.

21.        We will deploy all our efforts to ensuring that the negotiations and agreements our governments commit to in international economic institutions and arrangements are in conformity with international human rights and environmental obligations and reflect commitments made at UN world conferences.  At the same time, we acknowledge that our governments, especially those of us who come from developing countries are under tremendous pressure from the more powerful countries and international trade/finance institutions that, instead of upholding peoples?human rights, do everything within their means to consolidate corporate power and reinforce the neoliberal ideology that underpin current institutions of global economic governance.

22.         Through networks of cooperation with other civil society groups and allies in industrial countries, we will seek to raise public opinion and undertake joint campaigns and plans of action on the deleterious effects of their governments?foreign policies on the world뭩 peoples뾵hether these are linked to foreign debt, migration, trade or military/security policies. Special efforts should be made, in particular, to raise awareness and dialogue with the people of the United States, as citizens of the only superpower in the world.

23.        We echo the words of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr Sergio Vieira de Mello, who said in his message to ACSF that 뱓he work of the UN [and of governments] is not possible without NGOs contributing to our shared goal of human rights for all.?We believe that it is possible to forge genuine partnerships with governments and with the UN system. Together we can make things happen, like we already have at the global level: through the campaign to ban landmines, or in the creation of the International Criminal Court. However, we recognize that it is also necessary to maintain a critical dialogue in the process. 밒n Asia, the most diverse and dynamic region of the world, it is critical for civil society to assert its role as an independent and effective?nbsp; voice of the people. In such a process, we are empowering both our governments and the UN to do their jobs effectively and in a manner that is transparent and equitable, and we call on them to respect and support the space that is necessary in the fulfilment of our role as countervailing forces for the public interest.

General Guidelines for Action  

Special call from the Youth Workshop

We call upon all the governments, inter-governmental organizations and civil society to acknowledge the necessity of youth participation and interventions in decision-making processes that affect the life of youth at local, national, regional and global levels.

To All Governments in Asia

Democratic Global Governance begins at home

We urge all governments in Asia to:

1.        ratify the core human rights treaties, optional protocols, and other relevant conventions, and multilateral environmental agreements, and especially, the UN convention on migrant workers and the Rome Statutes of the International Criminal Court, and the Kyoto Protocol, without any reservation, where they have not done so, as soon as possible;
2.        support draft treaties such as the draft Convention on the Protection of all Persons from Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, or the draft Declaration on the rights of Indigenous peoples as adopted by the UN Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights;
3.        promote cooperation within the region in the realization of the Millennium Development Goals and other major commitments made at all UN world conferences;
4.        ensure that their line ministries and decision-making bodies, in particular those dealing with trade, finance, justice and security, act in coherence with UN human rights, health, labour and environmental standards and obligations;
5.        reverse the current growing militarization of our region and, in the process, ensure the full protection of human rights and the environment in and around military bases and sites related to military activities;
6.        repeal national security and anti-terror laws and policies that undermine human rights in the region;
7.        respect and be more open to partnerships with NGOs in pursuing the ideals of democratic governance based on the principles of human rights, human security, sustainable development and gender equality;
8.        make more efforts to integrate a gender perspective at all levels from policy formulation, budgeting, implementation to monitoring and evaluation;
9.        collaborate actively in promoting the development of legally-binding corporate accountability agreements based on international human rights and environmental standards with the appropriate monitoring mechanisms for transnational corporations;
10.        integrate into school curricula the nurturing of values related to human rights, peace and human security, sustainable development and gender justice.

To the United Nations and its Member States

Global democratic governance is essential in ensuring full implementation of MDGs

We request the UN and its member States to:

1.        continue to ensure that the UN remains a global and democratic institution that upholds the principle of multilateralism, democracy and the international rule of law;
2.        strengthen the relevance and effectiveness of the UN Commission on Human Rights and special procedure mechanisms, and of the UN human rights treaty bodies;
3.        provide the space and opportunities to strengthen and expand NGO participation rights within the UN system;
4.        increase resources to improve its relations with NGOs and its capacity to reach out to the regional, national and local levels, by strengthening the NGO section of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and its newly created UN Informal NGO Regional Networks (IRENE), the NGO Section of the UN Department of Public Information (DPI), and the UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service (NGLS), as well as encourage the creation and/or strengthening of the NGO liaison units of specialized UN agencies, programmes and funds;
5.        open up NGO participation at the General Assembly and in the Security Council;
6.        substantially increase resources for UN bodies working on human rights and sustainable development activities, especially those under severe financial stress, such as the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP);
7.        seriously address and counter those policies and practices of the IMF, the World Bank and WTO rules that contravene fundamental human rights, including the right to development, and UN social, environmental and sustainable development objectives;
8.        collaborate actively in promoting the development of legally-binding corporate accountability agreements based on international human rights and environmental standards with the appropriate monitoring mechanisms for transnational corporations;
9.        make the preparatory process of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) more open to civil society, particularly NGOs at the grassroots level.

We request the ESCAP and UN bodies?regional offices in Asia to:

10.        provide more resources, political space and access for grassroots organisations and all  NGOs, particularly those working in the fields of human rights, sustainable development and women뭩 empowerment, to participate in their meetings and programmes;
11.        integrate a holistic and values-based approach in the planning and implementation of their policies and programmes in accordance with the principles of human rights, human security, sustainable development and gender equality;
12.        take the necessary steps towards the creation of a regional mechanism for human rights.

To Civil Society Actors in Asia

Democratic participation is a prerequisite for genuine global governance.

We invite all civil society actors in Asia to:

1.        make more efforts in developing genuine partnerships with the UN and governments in implementing the MDGs, based on mutual respect and trust and with a common commitment to upholding human rights;
2.        be more active in making use of UN instruments and mechanisms in  advocating the cause of human rights, human security, sustainable development and gender equality and, towards this end, undertake training and capacity building programmes to enhance our advocacy skills;
3.        be more active in building coalitions and alliances across sectors towards democratic global governance in solidarity with the people, particularly the  most marginalized and vulnerable groups and sectors;
4.        be more vigilant about our own values, practices and behaviours, and our independence from governments and the corporate sector, in order to ensure transparency and accountability of our organizations to our people whom we serve.

We commit ourselves to undertake the tasks we have set before us at this Forum. We believe it has provided a space for building networks and capacities for upholding human rights and working for sustainable development, peace, justice and human security with a commitment to gender justice and equality. We are convinced that the organization of this Forum is one step to the realization of the vision of creating a Global Civil Society Forum, as agreed at the NGO Millennium Forum which took place at UN Headquarters in New York in May 2000.  

Bangkok, 13 December 2002

[Adopted by acclamation at the final plenary session of ACSF2002,
further to amendments proposed by the floor]

The full text of this statement and other related documents of ACSF 2002
are available at the website of CONGO.

Conference of NGOs in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CONGO)
Working Group on Outreach to Asia (WGOA)

Palais des Nations, Room E2-B, 1211 Geneva 20, Switzerland
Tel: (41-22) 917-1881 / Fax: (41-22) 917-0373
Websites: /

Posted by KWWA
The Situation of Women Workers in Korea
kwwa  2002-11-20 19:04:43, 조회 : 450

OCT 1999 Program in Japan

The Situation of Women Workers in Korea

Since the strict conditions of the International  Monetary Fund’s economic bailout package went into effect  last December 1997, approximately two to three million workers in S. Korea have lost their jobs. This figure represents a drastic six-fold increase in less than eight months.  For a nation with no exising social welfare system and with a domestic economy that relies heavily on foreign investment, drasticalling rising unemployment translates into extreme financial insecurity, intensified social problems and tremendous emotional dislocation across the entire nation.  For the most vulnerable sectors of the population such as women workers, particularly single mothers and women who operate as the head of their of  households, the situation is especially grave.

Women workers are disproportionately affected by economic restructuring strategies and privatization policies.  Due to severe discrimination along gender, age and marital status lines, women over forty years old, mothers, and pregnant women are dismissed immediately.  These groups of women have almost no future possibilities for wage labor employment and subsequently, drop out of the wage labor market as discouraged women workers. The only available job opportunities for other groups of women workers represent highly insecure forms of temporary employment. In Korea, 45 % of the employed pupulation are temporary workers.
As many as 65% of women workers work in very small companies which are not protected by the labor Standard Law.  Women workers are the first targets for illegal retrenchment and lay-offs, especially in periods of economic crisis. In addition, regular women workers’ status is reduced to temporary, part-time, daily and dispatched workers. This is largely due to patriarchy in Korea society. Women are viewed as secondary earners to men who are seen as breadwinners.

According to Employment Trends of May 1999, by  the National Statistical Office, the involvement rate of women in Economic activities decreased 0.6% in comparison with the first quarter of 1998, and the female population not involved in economic activities increased by about 220,000(2.2%). As of May 1999, female unemployment has increased to 559,000, which covers 32.8% of the total unemployed  population, and the unemployment rate of women has increased by 5.1% more than the rate of male unemployment.
As of May 1999, two of three employed women are temporary workers.  Only 30.8% of women workers are  regular workers while 61.4% of men are regular workers.

And only 5% of women workers belong to the union. The total rate of organized workers is 47% while that for women is only 36%.  Compared to  in April 1997, the decrease of union members as a whole is 32%, but the decrease of women union members is 47%.  The rate of union involvement by temporary female workers is 23.8%.  There are companies in which all female workers are temporary, and companies with more than 50% of temporary female workers are commonplace.  In large enterprises, the problem is more serious.  

Women  workers Employment  situation                   (Unit: persons)
Total employees        25,940        100%
Female workers         1,564          6%
Total union members        12,200         47%
Women Union members          563          2%
Temporary workers        1,341          5%
Women Temporary workers          319          1%
(This table is the summarize of a research conducted by KWWAU, illustrates the unstable situation of women workers)

Employment of Irregular Women Workers

In September 1998, the economically active population was 21,622 in Korea .  This  represented 61.2% of the population of 35,338 above the age of 15. Compared to 62.5% in 1997, this shows a 1.0% decline. Male participation in the labor market decreased slightly in 1998.  
According to below table, the number of wage workers of 12,101,000 dropped by 1,127,000 in September 1998, compared to 13,228,000 in 1997.  The number of wage workers  decreased amongst the economically active population, but the number of unpaid family workers amongst non-waged workers increased. Additionally, regular workers decreased markedly amongst wage workers in the current economic turmoil, but the number of irregular workers such as temporary and day workers increased.
Table wage workers by forms of employment (unit; thousand, %)
            1995             1996             1997           Sep. 1998
Wage workers         12,736 (100.0)         13,043 (100.0)         13,228 (100.0)         12,101 (100.0 )
Regular                  7,387 (58.0)          7,377 (56.6 )          7,133 ( 53,9)          6,247 (51.6 )
Temporary          3,548 (27.8 )          3,869 (29.7)          4,204 ( 31.8)          3,931 (32.5)
Day          1,801 (14.2)          1,797 (13.7)          1,890 (14.3)          1,923 (15.9)

Although the total population of male wage workers declined  in September 1998, the figure of 63.4% for regular male workers remained unchanged in comparison to  1997. However, in the case of women, regular workers  composed only 32.9%, temporary workers and day workers 46.6% and 20.5% respectively.  This implies that about 67.1% of wage female workers are irregular, whose employment is vulnerable.

Under the current economic crisis, many companies have discriminated against women and forced regular female workers to become irregular workers under the pretense of necessary restructuring.  In particular, married women have been illegally targeted for irregular employment; this has rendered women more marginalized and vulnerable .  In the process of restructuring, a variety of unfair labor practices have appeared with the transfer of female regular workers into irregular ones: regular workers are daid-off or vuluntary retied and then re-employed with temporary contracts. Women are also targets of this practice.  Regular women workers are dismissed and/or victims of the closure of their women-concentrated departments  and then re-employed through temporary employment agencies.  In addition, companies usually terminate female workers who attempt to resist these unfair labor practices. Since companies target female workers first and concentrate  on women for unfair  labor practices, the irregular employment of women workers has rapidly increased.
(Research conducted by the Ministry of Labor shows that about 80% of part-time workers are women.  Women among the total number of part-timers constituted 77% in 1993, 78.7% in 1994, and 78.3% in 1995)
Workers  who keep their jobs, they  have difficulties  from  the long working hours and  labor intensification, after revising labor laws. The law allowing workers to work for 44 hours a week( principle 44 hours a week) and 56 a month without  paying overtime payment.( about 12 hours a month  the workers can work without OT payment). And after pass a law on Dispatch work( about 21 work categories) many workers employed under  the dispatch work.

Voluntary retirement, prior dismissal of temporary workers
In the current economic crisis women workers have become marginalized in the labor market. In 1998, male workers accounted for 64.5% of regular workers, but women workers constituted 34.%.  The rate of temporary women workers increase from62.2% in 1997 to 66.1% in 1998.  This shows that women workers are forced and or voluntary retire from their jobs and they re-enter the labor market as temporary workers after the marriage, pregnancy and child-caring.  This also means that women are forced to work as temporary workers under the excuse of the current economic crisis.
With the structure ajustment  program , specially in financial companies the first workers dismissed were women. H Insurance Company launched a voluntary retirement scheme in April 1998 targeting those who had worked longer than seven years. 75% of the workers who volunteered to retire were women, and four out of then were married women. The key reason for this is that the company tried to encourage female workers to retire.  In the process , the branch manger encouraged female workers to retire and tried to create a difficult atmosphere for them.

Unfair dismissal, and pressure to transfer to a temporary working position
AT the first quarter of this year of KWWAU  Equal Rights Counseling Center , the proportion of callers anxious about  employment instability increased to 85.3% among the counseling cases.  Women are still targeted primarily for dismissal in a sexually discriminative manner, especially when they work at the same place as their husband.  In  public enterprises, the notification of dismissal  is given without following proper procedure or giving adequate explanation. In small companies, the workers are dismissed for unreasonable causes.  The cases related to workers’ maternity have increased: pressure to resign on pregnancy, non-payment of wages during maternity leave attempts made by employees to induce resignation after maternity leave, etc. Some companies begin to pressurize the pregnant worker immediately upon her notification of pregnancy.  Through the counseling service, we can confirm the disadvantageous situation facing women workers.  Under the banner of the IMF Economic crisis, women are discouraged from taking monthly menstrual leave or maternity leave.  
In public enterprises, large enterprises, small and medium enter-prises, and other private companies, the women workers are transferred to temporary working positions.  Even in public enter prises, female
Technicians are  transferred to temporary positions, or are forced to resign so the companies can recruit new workers on a temporary contract.  The circumstances surrounding unpaid wages very greatly.  In small companies, there are many cases of wages unpaid without any explanation.

The situation of Unemployed Women
According to our Action Center for Unemployed Women,  total number of cases , women come to 1,649. 64.9% of callers were over 35 years old, 75.3% were high school graduates, and 81.9% were married women.  It shows that those with a background of low education, the middle-aged, and married women still face the greatest difficulties in getting jobs.  40.3% of single women were fired recently and 33.5% of these women have not worked for some time.  In the case of married women, 46.5% are trying to find work and 28.8% of them have recently been sacked.  68.4% of the them have registered as job seekers.  
According to the principle of the public labor arrangement, priority should be given to female family heads.  The actual state of affairs does not allow women who are financially responsible for their family to have a greater chance of getting work.  The public labor arrangement limits the age of beneficiaries.  Those older than 60  years old have no chance of getting a job. Many of them have to pay monthly rent and the subsidy for living costs is much less than they need.  The vocational training courses are too short to enable them to get the necessary qualifications to get jobs.   In fact many of them could not get a job even after attending vocational training courses.

Resisting to the problems

But Under the worsening situation of  employment, women workers have constantly struggled, sometimes in a group and sometimes alone.  Our campaigns were concluded with jobs being restored.  The women researcher in the tourism center brought a civil suit against their sexually discriminative dismissal.  The eight brave women in the Masan Free Trade Zone won their jobs back through five months of struggle.  The women workers of Dae Woo Construction won in court against sexually discriminative dismissal.  The caddies of Golf Club also struggled against the announcement of dismissal given to the caddies over 40 years old, and they all returned to work.  The married women who resigned upon their weddings due to having signed an oath to retire upon marriage, brought a civil suit through the central labor committee case handling, and they won in court.  Institute discontinued its policy of prior dismissal of women workers owing to the head quarters of workers unions.  These cases have been greatly encouraging for women workers.  In addition, some companies have transferred temporary workers to regular contracts or have encouraged their temporary workers to join their workers union.
women workers are heads of their families, they face extremely difficult situations. Many women workers in unorganized small companies are being laid-off and they have not received their backwages, since many of these women workers are heads of families, they face extremely difficult situations. Therefore, Action center for women’s Unemployment were established in june last year. In order to publicize the seriousness in women’s unemployment and to encourage the government to make pro-active policies for women workers. These Action Center for women’s unemployment provide practical assistance to women workers, through a variety of programmes such as job counseling information provision, training, surveying activities and medical assistance.  Organizing rallies in every month in front of the headquarter of the ruling party and National Assembly  for women workers’ job security and demanding the government to establish women’s unemployment prevention etc.

Posted by KWWA
Key effects issues and responses related to the global economyd to
kwwa  2002-11-20 19:03:14, 조회 : 377

1999 Maria Rhie Chol Soon


The global economy and the new world order are dominated by the developed countries and the Multi-national Companies(MNCs). In many countries their living standards of the poor have worsened. When we speak of the poorest out of the poor, we are almost always speaking about women. Poor men in the developing world have even poorer wives. And the current economy crisis and structural adjustment policies have placed heaviest burden on poor women who earn less than men.

APEC's Globalization Agenda

One of the most important developments in the history of APEC happened  at the 1999 meeting. The ministers issued the Seoul Declaration of APEC ministers which gave APEC its first real focus since it was founded in 1989. The 1993 meeting in Seattle, USA gave birth to the Blake Island Free Market vision firming up the groups' free market agenda and strengthening the United States' leading influence in APEC.
The landmark Declaration of Common Resolve which was issued by the 1994 Bogor summit states that APEC wants to encourage closer regional cooperation among its members by reducing trade barriers, promoting investments and achieving borderless trade within the Asia-Pacific region. It commits APEC's full and active support to the World Trade organization/General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (WTO/GATT). In fact, APEC liberalization is described as going beyond GATT.

Most importantly, the Bogor Decaration gave birth to the 2020 plan. According to this plan, the APEC members commit to complete the achievement of free and open trade and investment no later than 2010 for industrialized countries, 2015 for newly industrializing countries and 2020 for developing countries. Following this, several working groups bodies and committees emerged to look after the liberalization of various sectors e. g. human resources, energy, transportation and communication, etc.
This is true in both senses: APEC is dead serious about its globalization agenda, and APEC works for the interest of the business sector, not the people. APEC wants to remove trade barriers and obstacles for unhampered business operation. Whereas citizens' groups have no place in the innumerable processes under APEC, the Business Community had the Asia-Pacific Business Forum, ABAC(APEC Business Advisory Group) and other bodies which recommends policies and targets for APEC. As US Economic Under-secretary Spero puts it:"APEC is not for government. It is for business. Through APEC, we aim to put government away."

On the other hand, APEC refuses to include labor rights and social issues which will be affected by APEC and globalization. It refuses to ensure that internationally recognized workers' rights and standards are promoted and protected.  Like WTO, APEC claims that labor issues are highly political and wishes to ignore laws and mechanisms protecting workers in order to ensure competitiveness in the global economy. APEC treats workers as inputs in production process, not people with rights.
The commitments and decisions made by government leaders, when sitting in APEC do not require the people's approval - that is . they are not subject to congressional approval, nor to public hearings, plebiscites or referenda. But these commitments have the force of official government decisions.

The key effects, issues, and responses related to the global economy
in the Asia region

In the past two decades, the Asian economy has gone through an economic restructuring process in the light of its incorporation into the world economy.  It is characterized by two ways : First, the movement of capital from newly industrialized countrie (NICs) to developing counties in order to get cheap land, raw materials and workers and to develop fresh consumer markets. The movement which started in the 1980s has formed a new regional division of labor through which newly industrialized countries provide the capital, and control technology and markets, while the developing countries provide land and abundant workers. The Southeast and South Asian countries thus become the destination of the relocation of production from the NICs of East Asia.
Second, the liberalization of national economy and the introduction of export-oriented industrialization in the less developed countries of Southeast and South Asia. Under the pressure of economic crisis in their won countries and the impact of World Bank-IMF policies, the states of these sub-regions have no choice but to open their economies and invite foreign capital to develop export-processing industries.  
This trend signifies the retreat of the various traditional agrarian economies or import-substitution economies to the universalized capitalist economy.  This kind of development does not provide much help to people's lives, and its impact is to make the nation more dependent on the world economy. The Korean case: Korea's image of being a high-tech producer is believed by a few sobering realities; the best selling Hyundai Excel is one of Korea's best known exports, but its body styling is Italian I origin; its engine is designed and manufactured by Mitsubishi and its transmission is both designed and manufactured by Mitsubishi. Most of the technological capitalities as is tues for other Korean electronics firms, in fact come from Japan.   In fact of the matter is that Korea has not been able to graduate from mainly being an assembly site for foreign products, specifically japanese. Nearly 30 years after industrializing, Korea is mow even more dependent on foreign assistance.    

Globalization/APEC is not something for workers to rejoice about. We have heard in this conference how working conditions have gone worse. Economic deregulation directly affects the lives of everyone, particularly workers, women and migrants. Which the unrestricted movement of goods, capital, investment and labor in APEC, the already scant, if not absent, social safety nets and legal protection of workers and other vulnerable groups will be eroded.  

The flood of investments form the West into Asia, especially in th last 30 years, has undeniably been boosted by economic liberalization and globalization. Globalization facilitated the easy access of investors to countries where there is an abundance of human resources and where wages are ow. Investment in the era of globalization is viewed by most Asian governments as the easiest way to cash and capital. Others vies it as the only way to so-called "industrialization". In order to attract investments, countries in Asia and elsewhere in the world are falling over each other to provide financial incentives and special treatment to business people, and to suppress workers' rights to provide "industrial peace" and high productivities.
This fierce competition among governments result in th lowering of national labor standards, the adoption of more restrictive laws, the violation of workers' rights, and the reduction of benefits. In their effort to attract foreign investments, these governments have surrendered their responsibility to protect their won workers. Instead, they have made the workers the sacrificial lambs in the name of development and global competitiveness. These are not really new labor issues.  

Industrial restructuring: Asian governments response

1.  government promotion of export-oriented industrialization within the context of a  
    five-year national plan
2.  privatization public sectors
3.  government creation of Free Trade Zones as an invitation for foreign investment and
   joint ventures
4.  deregulation of industries tat were formerly nationalized
5.  relocation of production by industrialists in East Asia to areas within South and
   South East Asia with an abundant source of cheaper labor
6.  importation of cheap labor
7.  passage of labor laws forbidding strikes and discouraging the formation of trade
   unions in the Free Trade Zones

Impact on women workers

increase of flexible workers

One of the harshest experiences of the globalization of the 1990s  has been imposition of labor flexibility on workers across the globe. Flexibility involves the systematic destruction of workers job and income security, greater restrictions on workers' capacity to exercise their collective bargaining power, and a deterioration in wages and working hours.  Of course the very fact that workers are deprived of the most basic forms of job security and protection against dismissal means that they are in no positions to protest against low wages and excessive working hours.
As has happened in many other countries, women are being gradually pushed into terribly low paid and insecure employment.
In South Asia and southeast Asia, a high percentage of the women workers in industry are employed as casual or contract workers who do not enjoy basic labor rights guaranteed by law. In fact, studies have found that while female wage workers are increasing in India, there is also a tendency on the part of employers to employ women mainly as casual, contract, or temporary workers.

Case: On March 8 Carmelita Alonzo, a swing machine operator at V.T. Fashion Image Inc. died after eleven days in hospital at the Andress Bonifacio Memorial Hospital in Cavite in the Philippines.  According to a statement released by her co-workers ar V.T Fashion, "She was killed by her 14 hours workday everyday plus overtime of eight hours every Sunday." (Philippines News features March 19, 1997) The workers denounced the system of quotas set by the company which forced them to work 12-14 hours per day. Carmelita was a 35 year old mother of five children and died because of the strict regime in V.T. fashion and its sister company All Asia Garment Industries which forced a compulsory 14 hours shift on the workers. V.T. Fashion is a Taiwanese invested garment factory located in the Cavite Export processing Zone in Rosario, in the Philippines. The company started its operations in August, 1992 and produces skirts, jackets, dresses, short pants, vests, and blouses. The factory produces garments for the GAP, Guess, Jones  New York, Eddie Bauer, May co. macy, Liz Clairborne, Ellen Tracy, Head, Benetton, Ruff Hewn, LeQ, Chachi, Ralph Lauren, etc. These garments are exported to USA, Canada, Taiwan, japan, and China.

There are 1,046 workers in the factory, 90 % are women workers aged between 17-30. Workers receive US $5.96 as the daily minimum wage and are subjected to overtime. This wage is not enough to meet the living costs of workers and rising prices. Workers are made t work from 7 a. m. on Saturdays and 6 a. m. to 2 p. m. on Sundays. Rest periods are usually one hour during lunch time and 30 minutes in the afternoon. Less than half of the workers are regular workers. Most are employed on 3 to 4 month apprenticeship contracts or as contractual workers with employment contracts of only 5 months. Others are employed on 6 months of employment and always makes sure that there is a new group of workers ready to replace those whose contracts are expiring. In addition, contractual workers have no sick leave with pay or other benefits. When the management discovers that a worker is pregnant she is immediately fired, even if her contract has not finished. Workers are easily dismissed and there is no union at VT Fashion Image.  This is the case of a garment factory in the Philippines; it is no different from other garment factories working conditions in the rest of the Third World.

Female part-time workers and temporary workers have been increasing in East Asia too. On the one hand, it is a result of the industries, increasing need for a flexible workforce. On the other hand, the limited job opportunities available as a result of industrial restructuring have also forced women workers to accept part-time or temporary jobs.  The failure of the East Asia governments to provide facilities and support to married working women has also forced them to take up part-time jobs and/or temporary jobs which are often much lower paid and insecure.

Unemployment and underemployment

Unemployment and displacement resulting from liberalization and globalization is continuing to undermine the living standards of workers and the people. A particularly negative effect of globalization is the legalization and popularization of the use of subcontract, flexible and other forms of informal labor to maintain global competitiveness. To reduce operating costs, companies maintains a lean and mean workforce that is made up of only a minimal number of regular workers with full benefits and of an army of temporary, contractual workers without job security, social benefits, labor rights or protection.

Job loss is common for both South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan due to company shutdowns or relocations of production. For the women who are the victims of company shutdowns and the privatization of state-owned enterprises, it means mass layoffs and unpaid compensation.

  Underemployment is a greater issue for East Asia where the relocation of plans has greatly reduced the number of jobs available to women. The step-by-step removal of production line has resulted in underemployment for workers. Older women who have remained in the manufacturing sector have to rely on short-terms producers and subcontracting work that is very irregular and results in reduced pay. The reasons why these women stay are due to relatively higher pay in th sector and the possibility of receiving redundancy payments.
However, underemployment is less of an issue except in the shoe industry, where workers work as home based producers of parts on an irregular basis.  There are many cases particularly of older women who ar almost half-unemployed. Women who remain in th factories after production reactions also undergo increase intensification of work which is due to automation of production and the efforts of the company to increase productivity with less workers.
  Hong Kong also demonstrates an increase of casual work in th form of part-time, subcontracting, and temporary work mostly in the service sector. Part-time is seen to be based on gender biases against women as a strategy to deal with an oversupply of labor.  

Women workers suffer for lowered wage, irregular hours, and exclusion from all benefits and welfare payments. Workers dispatched by subcontracting agencies also have little protection of their rights because they are no longer hired by the company where they actually do their work.  

Experience of Korea

Beginning in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Korean investors moved much of their capital from domestic labor-intensive manufacturing sited in the garment and shoe industries to overseas production zones.  The rising value of the Korean won and the increasing wage rate for domestic workers led many Korean companies to seek a cheaper and more exploitable workforce in less industrially developed region.

Local governments in newly industrializing countries such as China, Vietnam, and Indonesia followed the repressive tactics and structural policies of previous export-processing zones(EPZs) in East Asia and Latin America. EPZs offered foreign investors fringe benefits and tax incentives as well as a cheaper, more disciplines workforce. Workers, mainly young women from rural areas, toiled under extremely harsh and inhumane working conditions for very low wages. Both the employers and these newly industrializing states engaged in repressive labor control tactics in order to make workers less expensive to hire, easier to fire and less able to organize independently. South Korean companies, which once provided low-wage, female labor mainly for U.S and japanese multinationals, now took advantage of exploitative working conditions in EPZs abroad to increase profits and exert more repressive labor control.

During the 1980s, while many Korean investors moved their production sites abroad, the Korean government spearhead an industrial restructuring policy which focused on developing heavy-chemical industries. In the process, women workers who were working in light industries were subjected to mass dismissals and more unstable forms of employments.  Due to the increased collective strength of workers and the rise in their consciousness about their terrible working conditions and their low wages during the late 1970s and 1980s, the government and employers adopted a stronger strategy to block workers' demands and destroy workers' attempts to organize.

Worsening conditions of employment for women workers in Korea paralleled the withdrawal of foreign investments in domestic export- production zones, the transfer of domestic capital overseas, and mass dismissals through lock-outs of small to mid-size industries. Because the textile, shoe, garment, and electronics industries were classified as fading industries, the government showed little concern about to the large proportion of women workers who dominate these industries. When foreign-invested companies withdrew their capital, many women workers faced sudden dismissals and many became unemployed.
In Korea,  the labor market is marked by considerable flexibility as shown in recent statistics around 6.3 million workers, almost 50% of th total employed on a temporary and part-time basis among whom 78% are women. Out of these women, 80% are married (by end of 1998), flexible enough now in Korea already but the foreign investors forced more and more flexible labor market in Korea.

Women's unemployment

In recent years, plants closures in Korea have been used by management to prevent workers from organizing and also as a way to gain access to cheap labor. COmpanis may move their plants to rural areas in the same country or simply move out of the country altogether. Job loss is common in Korea due to company shutdowns or relocations of production. for those women experiencing company shutdowns, the impacts are mass layoffs and unpaid compensation.  

Since 1986 the structural adjustment programs which the government has undertaken, (especially since the late 1980s when Korean labor conflicts were at their height)have become increasingly serious. Declining industries (textile, clothing, shoes) are relocated abroad, while growing industries (steel, petrochemical, electricity, electronic, automobiles, shipbuilding and machinery) are given many incentives to develope. As women workers have always been concentrated in labor incentive jobs, jobs lost under industrial restructuring process are usually women's jobs.  Unemployment occurs mostly in light industries where women workers are concentrated in the form of lay offs and dismissals. The major causes of these layoffs and dismissals are the withdrawal of foreign capital from ventures and their transfer abroad to other countries, the temporary suspension or permanent closures of small to medium sized firms and the systemization of sub-contracting. In Pusan where the shoe industry sat for five years from 1990 to 1994, 217 companies  declared bankruptcy and 768 firms closed. The number of workers in the show industry which had been 164,000 at the beginning of 1988 decreased to 31,395 in 1993. In the case of the Kuro export-processing complex in Seoul, there was a reduction of personnel from 74,466 in 1987 to 43,357 in 1995 ( in the case of Seoul Export Complex 21.1 % of the employees were dismissed form 1987 to 1990). and in the Masan Free Export Zone, 47 % of the employees were dismissed from 1987 to 1992. The workers show were dismissed received neither training to obtain other employment nor any other support to guarantee their livelihood. The women workers who were unemployed were pushed into lower-level service industries or worked as housekeepers.

Since the strict conditions of the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) economic bailout packages went into effect last December 1997, official government statistics report 솜 over 1.5 million Koreans have lost their jobs. However, when you count the number of "discouraged 'workers who have stopped looking for unemployment and the number of workers who have worked less than 14 hours a week, this figure amounts to almost 4 million workers. When compared to the pre-crisis figure of 300,000, the tremendous scale and scope of the current employment crisis is blatantly clear. Women workers, in particular, are adversely affected by the tremendous rise in unemployment. They are the first to be dismissed and the first to be subjected to more hazardous and insecure forms of employment such as work int he information sector and temporary employment.
In addition to the daily fear of losing one's job, workers also face worsening job conditions. Tremendous job uncertainty and instability, low wages, hazardous working conditions and intense sexual discrimination characterize an increasing proportion of the jobs available to workers.  When companies also force workers to change their employment contracts from permanent to temporary status, often through sexual violence and/or threat of job loss. Only seven percents of the female labor force os organized, which leaves the vast majority of women workers without any institutional forms of protection from the intensification of employer abuses and the degradation of working conditions.

Although high unemployment rates also plague many advanced industrializing countries such as those of the European Union for a nation with no existing social welfare system and with a domestic economy that relies heavily on foreign investment, Korea's drastically rising unemployment translates into extreme financial insecurity, intensified social problems and tremendous emotional dislocation. For the most vulnerable sectors of the population such as women workers, particularly single mothers and women who operate as the head of their households, the situation is especially grave. Increasing unemployment has serious social, psychological as well as economic consequences.
The absence of an institutionalized social safety net and the rigid qualifications for unemployment insurance leave many women workers without any means of supporting themselves or their families. 65% if unemployed women are not eligible for unemployment insurance in South Korea since they work in firms with less than five employees. Many employers with less than 10 employees also do not register their employees for unemployment insurance either. These facts are particularly significant, given that 20 percents of women workers who have no access to unemployment insurance operate as the head of their households.

Dismissed women workers are often isolated from other workers experiencing the same trauma because they work in small-scale enterprises. Feelings of isolation and desperation translate into severe depression and post traumatic stress. Many women who are unable to cope with their day-to-day activities simply withdraw for the larger society. Women who experience severe emotional instability also represent a high-risk population with regards to health-related problems. The immune system of women who are emotionally unstable and weak often deteriorates. The absence of health insurance leaves many women without access to basic health services and subsequently increase the possibility of society-wide health problems.  

An alarming increase of incidents such as suicide, domestic ad family violence, child abandonment and sexual harassment is also occurring. Daily reports of workers committing suicide and leaving families without any means of economic support fill news headlines form March to June 1998 (2,288 family heads committed suicide form march to June 1998 which is 25 suicide everyday, reported by Pyung Hwa News). Incidents of parents dropping their children off at day care centers and never returning to pick them up have risen. Male workers who feel powerless to fight their dismissals often target their wives and children as the object of their helplessness and frustration, thus giving rise to the increase in domestic and family violence.
This kind of situation affects women severly, particularly single mothers and women who are the heads of their households, rapidly rising unemployment poses serious imminent and long-term problems for the conditions of women and their families. If they are older than 40 years old, they can not fin any jobs, since no industries even low-level service sector employ older women.

Women in the less industrialized countries

Many Third World countries, while having gained political independence from the West, are economically heavily dependent on it. The basic idea of these policies expect the developing countries to carry out privatization and economic liberalization that is adversely affecting the local economy and it is mainly for the profit of the MNCs. Countries with debts have been forced by the IMF to carry out macro-economic stabilization and structural adjustment programs in order to ensure repayment and to protect the interest of the multi-national corporations. The following are powerful instruments of economic restructuring which affect the livelihoods of people in the Third World.

- Currency devaluation
- High interest rates to fight inflation, to promote savings, and to allocate investment  
  capital to the highest bidder
- Strict control of money supply and credit expansion
- Removal of trade and exchange controls
- Deregulation of prices of goods and services
- Reduction of state subsidies for consumers goods, foodstuffs and social services, like
  health and education
- Freeze on wages and salaries at low levels
- Privatization of public sector enterprises
- Indiscriminate export promotion
- Open for private economic enterprises and their markets

These policies which are dictated by the first world and which are decided in the multi-lateral institutions are characterized by massive privatization and by the reduction of the role of the state in economic life. They also involve the drastic reduction of government deficits, and are achieved by slashing health education and other social welfare budgets. Poor countries have to follow the conditions dictated by the WB-IMF in order to get loans. As mentioned above, the conditions imposed have many negative impacts on these countries. In particular, they have severe impacts on women both as home cares and economic procedures. Only the military budget is exempted from structural adjustment loan conditions.

Posted by KWWA
kwwa  2002-11-20 18:59:27, 조회 : 370

Irene Xavier

Scope of this paper
This paper will deal with the above topic in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Philippines. The Mekong regions of Indochina have been left out because I have not been able to get much information about them. In addition the paper should be viewed as an activist’s perspective and as such may lack the subtleties of an economic analysis. For all of this I apologize. Much of the analysis comes from an unedited paper by Jayati Ghosh entitled Impact of Globalization on Women: Women and Economic Liberalization in the Asian and Pacific Region.

Period prior to the recent Asian economic crisis

In the past decade the NICs of South-East Asia especially Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand and to a lesser extent Philippines experienced an export-oriented industrial proliferation. These countries saw an increase in the relocation of capital especially from Japan coming in as FDI. This resulted in very high growth rates in the regions. Capital relocated to this region in its search for lower costs of production. However as the recent crisis has shown such capital shifts are ephemeral in nature. Though capital may relocate to a country at one point in time there is no guarantee that it will stay there for long. This is because there is an abundance of cheap production sites opening up in various parts of the world. The economic regimes in this region have not been uniform. Malaysia and Thailand were characterized by open economic regimes within which FDI played a crucial role in delivering export and output growth. Oil revenues and a strong State played a crucial role in Indonesia’s developmental path. The Philippines however never reached the dubious status of a ‘tiger” except in terms of export growth though there was a shift towards a more diversified manufacturing sector.

One of the most significant changes that came with this export-led growth was change in domestic production in the region. In Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines and Indonesia primary products accounted for about 90% of exports in the 1970s. By mid-1990s these were reduced to about 30% of exports. The share of exports brought about by FDI that practically flew into the region resulted in manufacturing accounting for export-led growth. This diversification took less than two decades to achieve in this region while it took most of the developed almost a century. It is now increasingly accepted that such diversification was brought about by industrial policy in all these countries which, directed both public and private investment into manufacturing activity

In the early 1990s financial capital from many parts of the world have been looking for new areas of employment. This capital flowed into the region as countries liberalized their financial accounts. Countries in the region saw a growing exposure to international finance. This provided in South East Asia external financing of current account deficits  which played a role in maintaining high levels of investment even when FDI inflows reduced after 1992. In the last couple of years the region has seen a deceleration of international trade growth in industries like the semiconductor, office automation and consumer electronics. When this was coupled with projectionist measures from principal developed countries an end to the property boom resulted leading to adverse effects on banks that financed the property boom. This of course led finally to capital flight from the region and the resultant economic crisis, which began in Thailand and soon spread to its neighbours.

Changing patterns as a result of Globalisation on women’s work
In any discussion on women’s work we know the problems associated with the invisibility of much of women’s work. We recognise that in much of women’s work there are areas that remain largely unchanged because social, political and economic forces condition the ability of women to enter the labour market with any reasonable amount of independence, equality and security. With the data that is available on women’s work (which is usually inaccurate), we can make some observations on the changing patterns on women’s work in this region.

1.        The feminization of employment
More women work in both the formal and informal labour force. Despite the recent recession, Malaysian women for example still continued to work. The initial numbers who were retrenched have found some other kind of alternative emplyment though this may only be temporary work. Initially this region became home to capital that fled from Japan, Taiwan and Korea. This created many jobs for women in this region. However these incomes and jobs do not clearly translate into better living and working conditions. Women become more independent and have more control over how these incomes are spent. Yet in Malaysia for example women workers are not the ones who buy houses with their incomes because they cannot afford to buy houses with their incomes and they are not allowed to buy low-cost housing as they are not regarded as heads of household by public housing agencies. Despite the increase in jobs women still earned much lower salaries than men in the region.  

2.        The feminization of unemployment
While women in the region entered the formal work force there has been an almost relentless pattern of cyclical retrenchments. From the start of the export-oriented industrialization till the present time this region has seen the ebb and fall of workers getting employed and then being retrenched after a couple of years. In all of this the clear shift has been towards down sizing of the work force. There are hardly any examples of factories that have gradually increased the labour force over the period of the last 10 years.

In addition factories have quite successfully kept the workforce of women young. Older women who lose jobs keeping sliding down the job-ladder to taking lower paying jobs if they get jobs at all. Women with little or no education and market-demanded skills are of course the most vulnerable. For example in Malaysia retrenched workers take on contracted work for temporary periods. This is also the case of women workers in Thailand. Unemployed women also turn to self-employed jobs like food vending, sewing and selling. In Thailand some women also turned to homework to produce garments or artificial garments. Others returned to their rural homes and to agriculture temporarily. There are of course women who continue to remain unemployed and dependent upon relatives. There is very poor social security for retrenched workers or unemployed workers in the region.

In Malaysia the argument is that women in export-oriented industries were not the first to be laid-off during the crisis. However one needs to see that Malaysia had been a large importer of migrant labour – mainly male – to work in the construction industry. When the construction industry came to a near standstill the migrant workers were the first to be retrenched. However this was then followed by women in small factories which, were mainly like sweatshops that took on subcontracts for large TNC-owned plants. When the WTO agreements come into effect in 2004 more local factories will close. Also within the period of the last 5 years most garment and textile factories have closed. The shoe industry has also laid-off many workers. Yet in statistics these are not reflected clearly because there are no proper records of unemployed women. At the same time if men are laid-off, women are still affected because the pressures on declining household incomes also increase.

The last recession has shown that women workers in the region do not have secure employment.  

3.        Gender disparities in jobs and wages
Sex-based segregation of jobs is common in this region. Women still remain in the lower rungs of the production process that paid the lowest and is the most insecure work. When contract work became more widespread it was given also to women. Wage differentials between men and women also show that women earn much less than men.

4.        Economic migration patterns of S.E.Asian women
Within the region Philippines and Indonesia have been exporters of migrant labour to many parts of the world. This has not changed much. Migrant women, particularly those that are illegal are very vulnerable to exploitation. There are very few countries that provide adequate protection to migrant women.

When we put these economic changes in the political context in the region we see that economic changes occurred in situation of military, corrupt, dictatorial regimes in all the countries in this region. In fact governments argued that beneficial economic change is only possible when there are weak trade unions, poor labour laws, poor social security and so on. In the case of women this is particularly significant because they had few institutions to protect their interests. When greater democracy was achieved for example in Indonesia there appears to be more space for women workers to organise for change.


It is clear that the greatest benefits for women working in this region has been the new jobs that were created for women through globalization. Yet these jobs have not been permanent. In addition the jobs have varied and transformed in nature giving women less and less  protection and incomes. The little protection that women had in Thailand, Indonesia and Philippines in the form of minimum wages have been grossly insufficient.

There is increasing unemployment among women workers. In Thailand, statistics released by the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare showed that there were 1.2 million people unemployed nationwide at the end of 1997 and it would go up to 2 million at the end of 1998. Statistics in the same year indicated that 156 companies were likely to go under, costing 13,656 jobs and another 1,039 companies that are in serious trouble might cost the jobs of about another 228,732 employees.  

In Indonesia, according to the official figures from the Department of Manpower, up to July 1998 at least 15.4 million workers were laid off.  However, unofficial sources said that there were 20 million workers laid off at the end of 1998 and 25 million were under-employed.

Currently the major problems affecting women workers in Southeast Asia are:

·        Increase in the number of informal sector workers
·        Increasing job insecurity, unemployment and under employment
·        Feminisation of the Informal Sector
·        Weak Labor Laws  
·        Trade Unions are becoming weaker
·        Worsening occupational health and safety situations
·        Migration of workers
·        Degradation and Destruction of the Environment  
·        Local economy/real economy being destroyed
·        Government committed to neoliberal policies
·        Increasing poverty
·        Lack of participation of women workers in the decision making bodies of labor organisations and the government policy

Presented by Irene Xavier

Posted by KWWA
Report on the Korea women workers organizers exposure/exchange workshop for building solidarity with Sri Lanka
kwwa  2002-11-20 18:48:18, 조회 : 375

1. Organized by the Korean Women Workers' Association United (KWWAU)
& the Community Education Centre(CEC)

2. Date : April 22, 2000 and April 30

3. Korean participants
Mi-hye Choi (chairperson of Ma-chang Women Workers' Association),
Yoon-sook Moh (secretary general, Inchon branch of the Korean Women's Trade Union),
Kwoi-sook Bong (secretary general of North Cholla Women Workers' Association), Hyonju Kim (secretary general of Inchon Women Workers' Association),
Jin-kyung Bae(publication officer of Korean Women Workers Associations United),
Jae Youn Lee (translator)
4. Schedule
April 23                Invited by Anita Fernando (chairperson of CEC)
                having a talk with Jachal Kumal, general secretary of a trade union at                 the national level and Dipal affiliated to a  post officers' trade union.

April 24                Attending a rally organized by workers working at the Fine Lanka, a                 Korean bag manufacturer (in Katunayake Free Trade Zone (FTZ)).
                Having a meeting with Fine Lanka workers (about how their strike                 developed and what they demanded)
                Visiting the CEC, the Women's Center & the Free Trade Zones                         Workers Union.
                Visiting women workers' accommodation, who work in the Katunayake                 FTZ.
                Watching a play performed by the Katunayake FTZ workers.

April 25                Visiting the SATHYODAYA and  Listening to its activities and tea                 plantation workers' situation in the Nawalapitiya region.
                Having a meeting with its staff members and students.
                Visiting tea plantation  workers' accommodation and their workplace.

April 26                Visiting Dabindu Collective's office
                Having a meeting with dismissed workers who worked at an                         Indonesian company.
                Having a meeting with Dabindu staff in Biyagama.  
                Visiting women workers' accommodation near the Dabindu in                         Biyagama.
                Having a talk with the workers working at the Joy Lanka, a Korean                 toy company located in the Biyagama FTZ.
                Having a talk with a worker abused by a manager at a Korean                         company.

April 27                Holding a workshop to discuss Korean women workers' situation and                 women's trade union, situation of the Masan Export Processing Zone                 and its women workers' struggles in the late 80s and 90s, and women                 workers' situation in the FTZs in Sri Lanka ( with 5 Dabindu staff                 persons, 1 trade unionist, 1 unionist of the Fine Lanka, 3 Women's                 Centre staff persons)  
April 28                Visiting the IJBF, a women farmers' organization in the Kekirawa                 region, and having a meeting with its activists
April 29                Completing a written complaint to Fine Lanka

5. Background and Purpose of Our exchange program

The total number of 134 Korean companies made 0.5 billion US$ investment in Sri Lanka, in 1999. They are mostly labor intensive light industries centered by textile and garment industries. Korean companies employ around 60,000 workers, so Korean companies are evaluated as the ones employing the highest number of workers in Sri Lanka.  The Sri Lankan government is very eager to attract foreign investment through providing protection and benefits for foreign investment in its constitution. The government has attempted to attract foreign capital through providing extremely extensive privileges and benefits to foreign companies. In particular, it enacted a special law (so-called BOI law), to attempt to attract intensive foreign investment especially in export-oriented industries. We have knowledge of the Sri Lankan government's policies and foreign investment, but workers' situations in Korean companies are hardly known.  

Therefore, our exchange program aims to grasp working conditions, workers' situation and related organizations' activism in Sri Lanka through carrying out this exchange program in free trade zones. In addition, it aims at sharing the current Korean situations and workers' experiences with Sri Lankan workers. Lastly, it aims carrying out sincere discussion to consolidate solidarity and networks between workers and activists between Korea and Sri Lanka.  

6. Procedure of our program

1) Meeting with Sri Lankan workers and visiting their accommodation
Meetings with workers in Sri Lanka were carried out in the FTZ in Katunayake and  Biyagama.  More than 90,000 women workers work in the FTZ located in Katunayake. Sri Lankan workers working in FTZs were allowed to form trade unions, in February 2000. Workers and activists have carried out very strong activism to set up trade unions and improve their working conditions. We visited striking workers working at three companies and workers physically abused by managers in a Korean company. In addition, we were allowed to visit women workers' accommodation.  

  Fine Lanka
The Fine Lanka is a Korean-invested bag manufacturer. It has frequently generated conflicts with workers since 1999. Although workers need to receive contracts, but it denies issuing them to workers. Even the workers' council provided by the government was not allowed in the factory.  In this process, three workers were dismissed. After there were further conflicts with workers and security guards, the company suspended two workers. This was one-side decision by the company, which should have been discussed by workers' council members. On March 30, 2000, the company closed its factory without any advance discussion with workers, and it were still shut down until we visited workers. At that moment, the company ordered some workers to work at only one of its two factories, and 450 workers amongst the total number of 960 were dismissed.

Workers demanded to reinstate all of the 450 dismissed workers, to make their payment for two days when they went on strike in March, and to provide their bonus and wages for April because they continued to go to work, although the company shut down its factories. Workers requested us to see their Korean directing manager to let him know what workers demanded.

We made a call to the manager. We mentioned that we had already met Fine Lanka Workers and requested as gently as possible, to see him to know on the manager's side, what had happened. However, the manager refused our suggestion telling us that he did not have any time to explain the distorted situation (in his view). Eventually we have to forward our written complaint by mail, to let him know our view and demand to make prompt settlement with its workers (it is attached.)

  Ishin Lanka
Ishin Lanka is an Indonesian invested company with an Indian managing director. It produces threads for exportation. The company employs the total number of 750 workers, and among them, over 500 workers are women. The factory is operated all day with three shift workers. Workers of this company set up their trade union on February 4, 2000 when is the Independence day in Sri Lanka. But, it was not allowed in the company. The company formed a workers' council to weaken the trade union and make only one-side communication channel. On March 17, 2000, 11 workers were dismissed. They had been warned so many times because their union activities were very strong. Four out of them, were dismissed under excuse of their false over-time work and the others are fired because they were involved in its labor committee.  

On March 17 when the dismissed workers decided to go on strike, the company shut down the workplace, and many workers were nearly confined in their company dormitories because managers stopped them from gaining their foods from the outside. Two days later, women workers staying in the dormitories joined the strike, the company, assaulting them with pvc pipes, drove them out of their dormitories.

The workers had no place to stay. Fortunately, a buddhist temple in Katunayake invited them, so they stayed there over one month to carry on their strike. After we had a meeting of women workers, a monk told me that women are not allowed to stay overnight in temples, but because monks agree with their struggle, monks should protect them until they win.

The company dismissed all of the 750 workers who joined the strike, and employed new workers. The company refused  trade union's attempts to make negotiation, and further, it held fast its stubborn stance, even when the government visited managers. Workers demanded to reinstate all the dismissed workers, to increase their payment, to make payment of their unpaid bonus, and to guarantee other 7 day holidays. They also claimed the company not to abuse workers, nor give unnecessary minor warning.

  Joy Lanka
The Joy Lanka had transferred its type of business from toys to bags. In this course, it dismissed 175 workers. Against the company's decision, workers formed their trade union and so, the 175 workers were reinstated. But, soon after, the company transferred its type of business to toys again, and dismissed all workers except 110 workers. Therefore, workers went on strike.  When the Joy Lanka recruited them, it just ordered workers to work, without in advance informing them  that they would work at the CNH. The Joy Lanka insisted the CNH have no relationship with it, but the owner of both of the companies is the same: the Joy Lanka, the CNH, and the JY are in the same group, and their chairperson is a Korean. Since the Joy Lanka's working condition is slightly better than the CNH's, workers desire to work at the Joy Lanka. Workers did not trust managers. That is because the company did not keep its promise to guarantee their employment, but when the workers brought the case to the court, the company turned over.   The company preferred newcomers to its workers. Even the workers still working at the company supported the dismissed workers' struggle.
  abuses by supervisors and managers in Korean companies (the JY Textile and others)
We had a talk with a male worker working at the JY Textile. He worked as a boiler for six months. On February 15, 2000, He was stroke on the head by a Korean manager while he was carrying out his night work. On the next day, the case was brought to the police. He had a medical checkup, but on April 18, 2000 he had a return of the disease. Although the company tried to settle in his case giving some compensation, he refused it and demanded his job security. In another case, its supervisor kicked a woman worker. Further, workers at the Korea Silon Foot Wear were abused because they did not reach their targets.

  Visiting women workers' accommodation
Women workers working in the Katunayake FTZ earn monthly payment of 3,000 rupies on average. Women workers are concentrated. Six rooms were available in a house and three or four women workers usually share a room. Very small space just for cooking and a bed is available.  Their rent is around 1,250 rupies. They told us monthly cost of living for their rent, electricity and so on is around 4,500 rupies. Most of them moved from their villages at the age of 18 years. They support around 10 families back in their villages. We met a woman worker working for a company for 7 years. Because of her marriage, the company threatened to terminate her job. We feel so sorry because three or four women workers have to live in a small room without any fan in the hot country. However, they have so strong self-esteem and confidence that they let us see their livelihood without feeling any shame.

2) Visiting trade unions and women workers' organizations
We also visited women workers' organizations and trade unions. Union activists and women workers' activists are very active. We can hear women workers' situations and reality in Sri Lanka through them.

  Women's Centre
In 1982 Industrial transport & General Workers' Union was formed, and with its support, the Women's Center was set up in August 1982. Since then, the two organizations have worked very closely. The Women's Centre bridges women workers with other workers in the trade union movement. It also carries out celebration for the May Day and the International Women's Day. Some activists in FTZs participated in setting up a confederation of independent trade unions.

We feel trade unions and the Women's Centre have the main task about how to organize FTZ women workers. The Women's Center helps women workers to get together and carry out studies and discussion. It also educates them about the necessity for the establishment of trade unions, and  legal advice in the conjunction of independent trade unions whenever workers experience conflicts with managers. If workers visit the Ministry of Labor, the Women's Center accompanies them to represent workers. In addition, the center carries out women workers related education and training.  

The Women's Centre has the membership of around 2,000 production workers. It has 4 branches and 4 full-time activists. Main activities of the Women's Centre are to let women workers use its library, and to conduct exchange programs for three branches in FTZ, and to undertake exchange programs with tea plantation women workers (mostly Tamils). In celebration of 20 years since the establishment of the first FTZ, the government conducted official celebration, but the organization carried out street exhibition with photographs about FTZs' real situations.  

A law allowing workers to set up trade unions in the FTZ was passed on December 8, 1999. On January 23, 2000, the Free Trade Zones Workers' Trade Union was established with the member of 2,000. Workers planned to increase the membership to 10,000 by the end of the year of 2000, through setting up its branches in each FTZ and in each factory. They also planned to visit individual workers to organize them.

  Meeting with DaBindu staffs (four including its chairperson)
The DaBindu was set up in 1984 and its Biyagama branch in 1991 after the Biyagama FTZ was formed. Their main activities are to enhance women workers' awareness, to provide legal advice and counselling to women workers. In addition, they conducted survey about health and nutrition of FTZs' women workers and carried out campaign for their health. As an organizational program, they open their libraries for women workers to visit the Dabindu freely. They carry out street drama about women workers once a month for the publicity.

Further, they also conduct exchange programs between FTZ women workers and women in the countryside and fishing village. Most of women workers come from the countryside. Managers usually give an distorted information about workers in FTZ, so young people under the illusion tend to leave their home early to become factory workers. In order to break the illusion and distorted information and to give real facts in the workplace, they feel the necessity for conducting the exchange program.  One of the exchange programs is to bridge the racial gaps and conflicts between the Singalis and the Tamil.

Many women workers taking counselling with the Dabindu work at Korean companies. The Young-in Lanka, a Korean company has harsh working condition such as forced labor and night work. In addition, the company did not take any measure for some workers whose fingers were pierced by sawing machines. Women workers at the Asia International were restricted to go to toilet. They have to hold only one flag that is available in the company to go to toilet during their working hours. Further, they were not allowed to go to toilet near the lunch time.  

In some cases, women workers solve their conflicts after they discuss with the DaBindu. It started to issue women workers' situations through its newsletters about 19 years ago, to improve their conditions. Since no trade unions are allowed in FTZs, they carried out alternative activities to trade unionism. The DaBindu published inhumane treatment at the Panorama, a Korean company, and then it threatened to collect the information, but the company's insistence was found groundless. In another company, there was no provision of free sugar and cream for workers' tea time, which was published on the DaBindu newsletter, the company changed its custom immediately. One woman worker working the Young-in Lanka for five years was insulted by a supervisor in front of their co-workers. The next day, she was threatened to terminate her job. After discussion with the DaBindu, she resisted the company's one-way decision, and the company had to give up its decision.

Since FTZ women workers have long working hours without having nutritious food, their health condition is mostly very poor. According to the DaBindu's survey, 60% women workers in FTZs suffered from dystrophia. It carries out nutrition related campaign and sells nutritious herbal food cheaply.

In addition, the DaBindu publishes and distributes sexual harassment related booklets and pamphlets and tapes on health and nutrition and legal issues to women workers. Since women workers can receive lump sum money when they are retired, they tend to terminate their jobs as soon as they are married.

We held a workshop to discuss how to strengthen the network and solidarity of workers between Korea and Sri Lanka. In the workshop  the necessity was emphasized for international solidarity to fight against transnational companies and globalization.    

Venue                  :  Community Education Centre
Participants         : 3 people from the Women's Centre / 5 staffs from the Dabindu / 6                   staff members from the KWWA / 2 unionists from the FTZ Union
Contents         : Korean situation; introduction of the KWWAU and the KWTU;                          experiences of striking women workers in the Masan export                           processing zone in Korea; Sri Lankan FTZ women workers' reality
  Korean situation and export processing zone
Since 1997 when Korea was stroke by the economic crisis the IMF has conducted neo-liberal policies to facilitate foreigners' far easier investment in Korea. Under this situation, the foremost victims are workers. Korea has had extremely high unemployment rate (due to bankruptcy, increasing number of homeless and street people because of industrial restructuring, dismantling families, far higher suicides), so women workers have also suffered a lot. Presently, the Korean economy is viewed as being recovered, but gaps between the rich and the poor are far much larger. As a result of flexibility in the labor market insisted by the IMF, employment has been very insecure and irregular workers have been increasingly spread out in society. To fight back against the situation faced by women workers, Women Workers' Associations set up the Action Center for Women's Unemployment, and the Action Center for Obtaining Irregular Workers' Rights. In particular, in 1999 the Korean Women's Trade Union was established to specialize in women workers' issues and organize women workers.

Presently, 71 companies amongst 77 companies are still operated in the Masan Export Processing Zone (EPZ) in Korea. Most of them are electricity or electronic companies invested by Japanese.  Since 1987 trade unions has been allowed in the EPZ. Workers (mostly women workers) in the EPZ have gone through conflicts and tension with the Korean government in relation to establishing trade unions. Foreign companies where trade unions had been set up were mostly relocated and/or their trade unions have become co-opted. Now, the number of women workers is 8,100 and male 4,700, out of the total number of 12,800 EPZ workers. However, there are very few democratic trade unions in the EPZ.  

Women workers in the EPZ are still exploited. For example, a woman worker who is 8 month pregnant is forced to have two shift work and to work while standing, but she was able to work sitting on a chair, before. Although women workers' working condition is getting worse, very few struggles are carried out. If workers fight for their rights and working conditions, companies relocated their factories or change regular workers into irregular ones, so now, workers experience high employment insecurity. However, under the terrible condition, It is mostly women workers who attempt to strengthen democratic trade union activities.

One of Korean participant worked for the TC, an American company. In 1987 when trade union was set up,  the company tried to destroy the union, workers occupied the factory for one and half years. At that time, workers employed several methods to fight against the multinational company: to publicize its exploitation to Korean people; to fight against the Korean government which should have protected Korean workers; and to form a national body and to publicize multinational companies' brutality nationally and internationally.  Since transnational companies move to so many countries, international and domestic solidarity is crucial. Outcomes obtained by TC workers' struggle were written down, which became a good example to other workers in the EPZ.  Above all, our struggles should aim to change people in relation to society and capital.

  Sharing Sri Lankan FTZ workers' experiences
The Women's Centre and the Dabindu try to organize women workers in the FTZ, mainly through operating libraries, performing street dramas, and carrying out sewing classes. They also attempt to enhance women workers' awareness through publishing booklets and newsletters. In addition, they also carry out exchange programs with people in the village. Since young Sri Lankan women do not receive proper sex education and abortion, they give such education, as well.  

In addition, they carry out the organizational strategy as follows : they give counselling and advice to their visitors, and then, they encourage the workers to share what they learn to other workers in the workplace. They also believe street dramas are very effective. When some conflicts take place, activists visit, give counselling, and help workers to obtain what they demand, so the organizations have quite high reputation and trust amongst workers. Through publishing newsletters, women workers' experiences are shared (and it also used to give international pressure to companies). When strikes and struggles occur, activists visit them and try to support them financially and psychologically.

  International Solidarity
In our exchange program, we had discussion mainly focusing on general economic situations between Korea and Sri Lanka as well as women workers in the FTZ. Although both countries are on different economic stages, women workers in Korea and Sri Lanka experience similar exploitation and repression by the capital, especially multinational companies. We can see repression on trade unions, harsh working condition, low wages and frequent ashore relocation of factories in Sri Lanka, which Korean EPZ women workers already experienced.

Sri Lankan participants were interested in struggles of Korean women workers, especially those in the EPZ, and we believe they can also adapt good cases and strategies used in Korea.  We are impressed because Sri Lankan women workers are very active in union activities and they have strong organizational power. We also discussed how to inform our struggles and how to consolidate international solidarity. If workers in Korean companies carry out struggles, we, Women Workers' Associations promised to take action such as protesting in the Korean headquarters. We also promised to exchange newsletters and correspondences to each other.

International solidarity and sharing information between workers are crucial. This exchange program including the workshop should not be tentative. We will carry out continued solidarity with Sri Lankan activists and workers.  

7. Significance of the Korean-Sri Lankan Exchange Program

This exchange program is evaluated as far progressive than previous ones. That is because we tried to intervene in some cases and to take action. Although our attempt to have a talk with Fine Lanka's manager was not realized, we sent our complaint to the company, through which we warn Korean companies in Sri Lanka.  We realize workers will be much far stronger if international solidarity between local workers and those where mother companies are located is inter-woven very well.

We plan to carry out exchange workshop between Korean, Sri Lankan and Vietnamese workers in the fall of 2001. We believe our exchange programs will be a good and strong foundation for consolidating international solidarity, establishing good network, exchanging information between workers.

Posted by KWWA
ILO Resolution concerning decent work and the informal economy (2002)
kwwa  2002-10-28 14:01:08, 조회 : 365
- Download #1 : ILO_resolution_concerning_decent_work_and_the_informal_economy_2002.pdf (56.0 KB), Download : 0

Posted by KWWA
International Women Workers Forum: Globalization and Informalization Programme (OCT 2000)
kwwa  2002-10-28 13:56:52, 조회 : 47



Korea October  2000

Summary :
A women workers forum on “Globalisation and Informalisation” is being held in Korea prior to ASEM ( Asia Europe Trade Meeting) from 14th /17th October 2000. Delegates are invited from organisations active on women workers issues in Asian and European countries. It is hoped to combine their participation in this forum with involvement in the ASEM NGO event.

Organisers :          Korean Women Workers Association United
                    Committee for Asian Women
                Women Working Worldwide (UK)

Aims :
The workshop will aim to :
1. Gain a fuller awareness of the emerging pattern of women's work situation.
2. Increase understanding of the ways in which this relates to
    globalisation and trade liberalisation.
3. Compare experience of the specific implications for women in different countries
    and sectors in both Asia and Europe.
4. Present a particular case study based on research in Korea.
5. Expand knowledge of international measures for promoting the rights of workers.
6. Exchange information on effective strategies at a local, national and international                      
7. Prepare policy recommendations to present at the ASEM NGO Forum.
8. Establish an action network to continue work on these issues.

Output :
1. Advocacy statement for ASEM meeting and other trade forums
2. Workshop report and recommendations
3. International computer network to continue the dialogue

Timetable :
The Women Workers Forum will take place in Seoul from the evening of 14th October until the evening of 17th October. This will be followed by the ASEM NGO Forum on the 18th and 19th.

Contact Addresses :                                
Asia :        Maria Rhie, KWWAU Korean Ecumenical Bldg, 136-56 Yoni-dong,
     Jongno-ku, Seoul, Korea

Europe     Angela Hale, Rm 412 MMU Manton Building, Rosamond St West
     Manchester M15 6LL, UK


Day One  15th Oct :  Impact of globalisation on women workers

9.00         Introduction to the workshop

9.20        What do we understand by “Globalisation and Informalisation”

10.0        Group discussions on the issues raised :
How does globalisation affect our working lives?
1.30        How has the pattern of women’s work changed in different countries as a result of globalisation?  :

Presentation of case studies
E.Asia                Korea
SE Asia        Indonesia
S Asia                India
W Europe        UK
E Europe        Bulgaria

3.30        Discussion in regional groups

5.0        Report back
6.0        Overview  

Day Two 16th Oct : Responses

9.0        Panel Discussion
How do we define our rights? How has our struggle for these rights been affected by globalisation? What are our new demands?

10.0        Local / national responses
Examples of organising from Asia and Europe  
e.g. Korean women workers union,
       Homeworking organisations in Portugal and the UK

11.0        International mechanisms :-
International trade unionism  - strengths and limitations
Social clauses in trade agreements
Company codes of conduct


1.30        Networking ( regional and international ):-
Committee for Asian Women
S. Asian workers charter
Attack ( organising unemployed workers in France)
Migrant workers

2.30         Discussion of strategies

4.00        Report back
Summary and action points

                                Day Three 17th Oct   :  Action Plans

9.0        Introduction :

9.15        Panel  :
What kind of action do we need? : lobbying, regional/international links, new  
forms of trade unionism etc.

10.0        Discussion groups

11.30        ASEM : what is ASEM and how can we influence it ?


Group activity leading to formulation of action plans and statement for ASEM

4.30        Presentation of plans and statements
5.30        Close
7.00    Solidarity  dinner( cultural night)
ASEM NGO Forum 18th/19th Oct
theme of People’s Action and solidarity Challenging Globalisation.
During the NGO forum, KWWAU will organise one  workshop theme on     international sub-contracting chain  on the18 th of  afternoon.
We are well come every one who is interested in this issues.

Posted by KWWA