The Fifth Meeting of the ASEAN Labour Ministers was held in Manila, Philippines on 8-9 October 1984 to pursue and strengthen wider areas of ASEAN cooperation in the field of labour and manpower.
The Meeting as attended by Y.A.M. PG. Laila Kanun Diraja PG. Bahrin, Minister of Law cum Minister of Communications of Brunei Darussalam, H.E. Mr. Sudomo, Minister for Manpower of Indonesia, H.E. Dato’ Mak Hon Kam, Minister of Labour of Malaysia, H.E. Mr. Blas M. Ople, Minister of Labour and Employment of the Philippines, H.E. Prof. S. Jayakumar, Minister of Labour of Singapore and Mr. Saneh Vadanathorn, Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Interior of Thailand; and their delegations. The Secretary-General of ASEAN, H.E. Mr. Phan Wannamethee also attended the meeting.
In his opening remarks, H.E. Mr. Blas M. Ople, Minister of Labour and Employment of the Philippines extended the warm welcome of the Philippine government to the five ASEAN Labour Ministers and their delegations to the meeting. He stated that under the pressure of current economic realities besetting developing nations, ASEAN countries must redirect their efforts towards austerity, discipline and honest work. For these initiatives, he stressed the necessity of having the broad support of the people which can only be obtained through open democratic debates. In this sense, he pointed out that Labour Ministers have learned to work in the open in order to earn the trust and confidence of their social partners, labour and management. In the same vein, Labour Ministers’ Meetings are necessary for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Lastly, he noted the pivotal roles of the Labour Ministers in the national governments of the ASEAN as they serve to remind societies that the human factor remains paramount Importance in any development strategy.
The Keynote Address vas delivered by H.E. Mr. Nicanor E. Yniguez, Speaker of the Batasang Pambansa of the Republic of the Philippines. In his address, Mr. Yniguez welcomed the delegates specially the delegation from Brunei, the newest member of the ASEAN. He urged the delegates to focus their efforts towards developing an ASEAN consciousness in order to take full advantage of ASEAN’s strategic position in the Pacific. Despite the diversity of the situations prevailing in the different ASEAN countries, he lauded the collaborative endeavours already achieved in the field of labour and manpower. He cited the encouraging signs of further solidarity among the ASEAN Labour Ministers as reflected in the proposals on technical cooperation, the establishment of a network for improving working conditions and environment, a unified stand relative to protectionism, and the long-term vision of an ASEAN zone of free movement. In closing, he wished the participants a fruitful meeting and reiterated the full support of the Philippine Government towards a stronger and unified ASEAN.
The Ministers noted the satisfactory progress in the implementation of the resolutions adopted at the Fourth ASEAN Labour Ministers Meeting and agreed to further intensify technical cooperation activities. They also noted the election of Indonesia and Thailand to the 1984-87 Governing Body of ILO as titular and deputy members.
The Ministers expressed serious concern over the protectionist activities of certain International Trade Secretariats (ITSs), which have adverse effects in industrial employment and productivity. They noted the continuing experience of most ASEAN member countries with this problem specially in its new forms under the guise of protecting workers’ rights. To provide adequate and precise information, the Ministers agreed to document and study these forms of protectionism and to raise the issue to the Tenth Conference of the Asia and Pacific Labour Ministers Conference (10th CAPLAM). At the same time, the Ministers further agreed to develop more effective dialogues between Governments and the ITSs.
The Ministers considered the problem of labour migration. They recognized the diverse manpower situations prevailing in the ASEAN countries which require distinct approaches to this problem. The Ministers therefore agreed to maintain a close watch over developments and emerging issues in this area and to continue the exchange of information for this purpose.
The Ministers observed that international labour standards have been formulated and implemented in the context of concepts and values of Western countries. In this regard, the Ministers stressed the need for ASEAN to adopt common positions in the setting of labour standards and to participate more effectively in the elaboration of these standards including the determination of agenda items for ILO conferences. The Ministers reiterated the need to review the powers and composition of the ILO supervisory bodies and the need for these bodies to take into account social and economic conditions obtaining in developing countries in the determination of their compliance with ratified ILO conventions.
The Ministers reaffirmed the position that the Protocol on the Asia and Pacific Region Government Slate for the restructured Governing Body of the ILO is final and conclusive.
The Ministers approved in principle, the following proposed ASEAN projects: (1) The ASEAN Programme on the improvement of Working Conditions and Environment; (2) the ASEAN Labour Information Network on Labour Relations/Labour Laws.
The Ministers expressed profound appreciation of the acceptance of Brunei Darussalam to host the Sixth ASEAN Labour Ministers’ Meeting in 1986.
The Delegations of Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand expressed their sincere appreciation to the Government and people of the Republic of the Philippines for the warm hospitality and excellent arrangements made for the meeting.
The Meeting was held in the traditional spirit of ASEAN cordiality and solidarity
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