Asia-Europe Forum: Unions Press Heads of State on Decent Work and Minimum Wages

Trade union representatives from 20 Asian and European countries, meeting in Brussels this week at the Asia-Europe Labour Forum (AELF), have called for their governments to address persistent decent work deficits and ensure minimum living wages in global supply chains and digital businesses.

ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow and ETUC Confederal Secretary Liina Carr delivered the labour forum’s message last night to government leaders at a session of the intergovernmental Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM), which now formally recognises the AELF.

“We called on the ASEM governments to require that business embed due diligence on workers’and other human rights throughout their supply chains and provide legitimate grievance mechanisms and access to remedy in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. We also emphasised the new risks that so-called crowd work and digital platform businesses will increase precarious work unless governments fulfil their responsibility to ensure these forms of business are properly regulated. And we stressed the need for governments to act decisively on climate change, to keep the temperature rise under 1.5 degrees by guaranteeing a Just Transition to a low-carbon economy. Immediate action is needed to increase resilience and adaptation,” said Burrow.

“Low wages, precarious work, negotiations between employers and unions, trade policy and globalisation are issues for working people in Europe as well as in Asia and on every other continent. The global market needs to be better regulated and companies obliged to offer fair wages and decent work wherever they set up. A global economy based on exploitation and greed will only serve to increase inequalities and instability in our economies. EU and Asian governments have a duty to act if they have any interest in protecting their own citizens,” said Carr.