1. The Third Meeting of ASEAN Labour Ministers was convened in Kuala Lumpur on 26th-27th May, 1980. The Meeting was attended by delegation from Indonesia, headed by His Excellency Professor Harun A. Zain, Minister of Manpower and Transmigration; from the Philippines, by H.E. Mr. Blas F. Ople, Minister of Labour and Employment; from Singapore, by H.E. Mr. Ong Pang Boon, Minister of Labour; from Thailand by H.E. Mr. Kasem Sirisumpuhn, Deputy Minister of Interior, and from Malaysia, by H.E. Dato Richard Ho Ung Hun, Minister of Labour and Manpower.
2. H.E. The Minister of Labour and Manpower, Malaysia, Dato Richard Ho Ung Hun, welcomed the Honorable Ministers and their delegations In his address of welcome, Dato Richard Ho Ung Hun called for greater harmonization of the labour laws and practices to meet the challenges in the 1980s. He stressed the need to accept indigenous approaches suited to the social and political structures; applicable in developing countries. He also mentioned that the standards setting procedures in the international Labour Organization were inappropriate for and inapplicable to developing countries. He urged ASEAN countries to make a concerted effort to influence this procedure of the ILO, so as to achieve the necessary flexibility in this regard.
3. The Meeting was officially opened by H.E. the Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamed. The Deputy Prime Minister in his address cautioned ASEAN countries on the challenges posed to their respective economies as a result of the world economic recession. He warned that there would be a tendency for increased protectionism by developed countries in the guise of international trade union solidarity and emphasized the need for a viable ASEAN response to these challenges.
4. The Meeting considered the following subjects:
a) Follow-up on the Resolutions of the SECOND ASEAN Labour Ministers Meeting,. Pattaya, May, 1977
b). ASEAN T.C.D.C. Programme of Labour and Manpower
c). International Trade Union Affiliation ASEAN’s response
d). ASEAN Trade Unions and Foreign Assistance
e). Problems of Ratification and Implementation of Unratified ILO Conventions in the ASEAN Region.
f). Policy Responses in ASEAN to Industrial Relations Crises.
5. The Meeting noted the concrete progress which had been made in the programmes of cooperation among the Ministries of Labour in ASEAN, particularly in regard to exchange of visits of senior officials to study particular aspects of the activities of Labour Ministries and the number of training fellowships that had been undertaken by ASEAN Senior Labour Ministry Officials within the ASEAN countries. The Meeting also noted with satisfaction the response of the International Labour Organisation and other agencies to the needs of ASEAN Ministries of Labour by organizing seminars and workshops relating to the problems of common interest within ASEAN countries. The Meeting agreed that these cooperative activities should be further encouraged and accelerated.
6. The Meeting also endorsed the recommendations made by the recent Workshop on ASEAN T.C.D.C. Programme on Labour and Manpower. It particularly emphasized the need to strengthen the focal points within each Labour Ministry which could promote exchange of ideas and information on a continuous basis on the needs and capacities of the respective Ministries of Labour in regard to various programmes undertaken by them. It further agreed to convene a colloquium on labour laws.
7 . On the question on international trade union affiliation, the Meeting took note of the importance of a vigilant attitude among ASEAN nations to the protectionist and interventionist activities of certain International Trade Secretariats (ITS). The Meeting agreed to take the matter up jointly at the next ASEAN Labour Ministers Conference and the ILO ASEAN Regional Conference to be held in Manila in November/December 1980, with a view to urging the ILO to study this matter so as to determine the proper relationship of ITS with individual nations.
8. The Meeting agreed that there should be regular cooperation and exchange of information among Labour Ministries in ASEAN in regard to the nature, control and supervision of foreign assistance to trade unions so that individual Governments could take such steps as are deemed effective in their own circumstances.
9. The Meeting reiterated the need for ILO conventions and standards to be made flexible and attainable by developing countries. The Committee of Experts in the ILO must be sensitive to the problems of developing countries ratifying conventions. The units in the Ministries of labour in ASEAN dealing with the ILO should liaise more closely with each other in regard to the procedures and problems in the application of and reporting on ratified and unratified conventions.
10. The Meeting in considering the subject of ASEAN policy responses to industrial relations crises, agreed:
a). that the growth and development of responsible trade unionism be encouraged so that collective bargaining which is the mainstay of the industrial relations scene in the ASEAN region could be strengthened and in the process, industrial democracy could develop within the framework of national requirements;
b). that the merits of tripartism, its difficulties and inadequacies as experienced by ASEAN countries be further studied so as to make tripartism an effective concept in the larger interests of ASEAN societies;
c). that innovative approaches in the field of industrial relations based on national values and cultures be identified and developed so that the processes of mediation and conciliation in industrial relations are strengthened;
d). that voluntary/compulsory conciliation and arbitration, which play an important role in achieving social justice within the perimeters of national interests and thereby rendering strikes and lock-outs and other forms of destructive industrial action unnecessary and irrelevant, be strengthened;
e). that there should be more workshops/ seminars to study and discuss various techniques of setting labour disputes, compatible with the cultural and historical values prevailing in the various countries;
f). that reports and assessments of the policies, laws, practices and problems in labour relations in ASEAN countries be continuously exchanged among Labour Ministrie in ASEAN, so as to provide relevant insights for ASEAN countries in this regard.
11. The Meeting gratefully accepted the invitation of H.E. Mr. Blas F. Ople, Minister of Labour and Employment of the Philippines, to meet informally in Manila during the forthcoming Conference of the Asian Labour Ministers to be held in Manila at the end of November 1980.
12. The delegations from Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand expressed their warm appreciation to His Excellency the Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamed for graciously opening the Meeting and for his remarks which provided valuable guidelines for the proceedings of the Meeting. They also thanked His Excellency Dato Richard Ho Ung Hun the Minister of Labour and Manpower Malaysia, and officials of his Ministry for their efficient organization of the Meeting and for their generous hospitality.
13. The Meeting as held in the traditional spirit of ASEAN cooperation, cordiality and mutual understanding.