The Seventh Meeting of ASEAN Labour Ministers was held in Bali, Republic of Indonesia, 13 – 14 October 1988.
The Meeting was attended by H.E. Pehin Dato Haji Isa, Special Advisor to His Majesty the Sultan and Minister of Home Affairs, Brunei Darussalam; H.E. Mr. Cosmas Batubara, Minister of Manpower, Indonesia; H.E. Mr. Kalakau Untol, Deputy Minister of Labour, Malaysia; H.E. Mr. Franklin M. Drilon, Minister of Labour and Employment, Philippines; H.E. Mr. Lee Yock Suan, Minister for Labour, Singapore; H.E. Mr. Vatana Asavahame, Deputy Minister of Interior, Thailand; and their respective delegations.
The Secretary General of the ASEAN Secretariat, Mr. Roderick Yong, also attended the Meeting.
His Excellency Mr. Sudharmono, Vice President of the Republic of Indonesia, graciously opened the Meeting. In his inaugural address, H.E. Mr. Sudharmono referred to the bleak international economic conditions resulting from a series of adverse developments over the past few years. Crippling economic growth, dwindling commodity prices on the world market, drastic changes in foreign exchange rates, rising unemployment and protectionistic trends, all of these developments have adversely affected the process of development. The impact is even worse on developing nations because many of them are further burdened by overseas debt. Hence, their development is at stake and calls for swift actions. However, the present trials and challenges should not be allowed to affect our industrious spirit in any way, but looked upon as a lesson to learn in order to achieve progress in the future. By way of exchange of information and experiences, and by intensifying cooperation amongst us in the face of the challenges to our development, member countries of ASEAN could better prepare policies to deal with the problem.
In his welcoming address, H.E. Mr. Cosmas Batubara, on behalf of the Ministers and delegates to the Seventh ASEAN Labour Ministers’ Meeting. expressed his heartfelt gratitude for the gracious presence and consent of the Vice President to officially open the Meeting. The Minister outlined the progress and achievements made through the ASEAN Labour Ministers’ forum since its establishment in 1975. He expressed his confidence that the forum would further explore areas of cooperation in socioeconomic fields to ensure peace and stability in the ASEAN region.
The Meeting took note of the satisfactory progress in the implementation of the Recommendations adopted at the Sixth ASEAN. Labour Ministers’ Meeting held in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam and agreed to intensify ASEAN technical cooperation.
The Meeting reiterated its grave concern on the increasing protectionist barriers and practices which adversely affect industrial relations, employment and productivity. It also noted with regret the increasing attempts to link trade issues with international labour standards.
Recognizing the importance of the informal sector in employment generation and economic growth, the Meeting expressed the need that this sector be given adequate protection and benefits and that the capacity of the informal sector in contributing to economic development be upgraded. The Meeting emphasised the need to increase the employability of the unemployed and the underemployed workers and agreed to propose an ASEAN project proposal on the informal sector.
The Meeting agreed that the ASEAN Training and Information Centre for the Improvement of Working Conditions and Environment Project (PIACT) be considered the ASEAN priority project. It further agreed that the project be resubmitted to the UNDP for funding.
The Meeting noted the satisfactory progress of the ASEAN Programme on Industrial Relations and Labour Studies (APIRLAS), and endorsed the proposal to extend the project up to November 1989 provided there are savings from the current budget allocated to it.
The Meeting agreed that the ILO provide more promotional measures such as sub-regional seminars, training fellowships and internships in the field of International Labour Standards and that the ASEAN member countries continue to exchange information and experiences in this respect. The Meeting urged the ILO to gear its Medium Term Plan (1990 – 1995) to address the needs of developing countries rather than focusing its activities to the application of standards. The Meeting expressed the hope that all ASEAN member countries adopt the instrument of Amendment of the ILO Constitution.
The Meeting adopted the structural linkage establishment between the ASEAN Labour Ministers’ Meeting and the other ASEAN relevant Bodies. It has also noted its support to the institutionalisation of the ASEAN Sub-committee on Labour Affairs (ASCLA) which serves as the technical working staff of the ASEAN COSD.
The Meeting expressed deep appreciation for the acceptance of the Government of Malaysia to host the Eighth ASEAN Labour Ministers’ Meeting in 1990.
The delegations of Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand expressed their sincere appreciation to the Government and the People of Indonesia for the warm hospitality and the excellent arrangements for the Meeting.
The Meeting was held in the traditional spirit of ASEAN cordiality and solidarity
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