Monthly Archives: June 2004

Global Network-Asia meets in Bangkok to redefine agenda on globalization

Trade union leaders and labor activists from Bangladesh, Hong Kong, India, Korea, Philippines and joined by their Thai counterparts met in Bangkok last 21 February 2004 to redefine their agenda of engagement on globalization.

After the collapse of the WTO 5th Ministerial Meeting in Cancun last September, rich countries have doubled their efforts to forge bilateral Free Trade Agreements with developing countries to off-set their losses in Cancun. Concern is rife among Asian trade unions and labor NGOs that the gains of the labor movement and civil society in Cancun who prevented further trade liberalization, will become useless as developed countries led by the United States and the European Union, opened bilateral free trade negotiations towards the developing countries. Unregulated liberalization of the agriculture markets in south countries have suffered after the WTO Agreement on Agriculture was signed. They have lowered their tariffs and subsidies to meet the WTO requirements but big countries like the US and the EU have not complied. Countries in the south are also facing increasing unemployment and job insecurity as they lowered their industrial tariffs to meet trade liberalization in the region.

The Global Network-Asia seminar in Bangkok discussed the strategies of engagement for the next WTO Ministerial Meeting which will be held in Hong Kong next year. Participating organizations in the seminar pledged support to the Global Network-Hong Kong, an alliance of trade unions and civil society groups in HK and spearheaded by the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions. Simultaneous actions and advocacies at the national level to engage national governments are planned as build-up campaigns for the regional campaign which will culminate in Hong Kong next year. However, Elizabeth Tang of HKCTU stressed that the campaigns should continue beyond the formal meetings, “building strength and capacities for action relating to the WTO and FTA should be consistent and not only during Ministerial Meetings.” She also emphasized the importance of the linkage between national and international campaigns.

This is the third Regional Seminar of Global Network in Asia following first and second regional seminars held in Manila and Hong Kong in 2002 and 2003 respectively. Global Network also participated in the global civil society presence during the WTO meeting in Cancun and the World Social Forum in India. Global Network is an international alliance of trade unions, NGOs and other civil society groups in Asia, Latin America, Africa and Europe to address issues and concerns relating to globalization such as the implications of WTO agreements and roles of international financial institutions in the developing world.

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LEARN firms up goals for 2004

For the year 2004, the Labor Education and Research Network aim to strengthen its partner trade unions and workers’ organizations toward meaningful political participation and efficient organizational capacity. In its annual evaluation and planning seminar last 3-4 February 2004 in Tanay, Rizal, the LEARN staff and board agreed to push for workers’ initiatives on labor unity, informal sector, women participation in unions and politics, leadership development and international networking.

The new goals and thrusts for the year were approved by the newly elected board of directors in the recent LEARN General Assembly held on November 2003. The new board of directors are: Daniel Edralin from the National Union of Workers in Hotel, Restaurant and Allied Industries; Samson Cordova from the National Alliance of Broadcast Unions; Emako Naldoza of the Confederation of Independent Unions in the Public Sector; Josua Mata of the Alliance of Progressive Labor; Fatima Cabanag of Tala Estate Settlers Federation; Jose Apollo Ado of the Workers Solidarity Network; Edwin Bustillos of NUWHRAIN Development Cooperative; Orlando Dimaano of PEWU and Samuel Eslava of the Philippine Cement Workers’ Council.

2004 is election year in Philippines. LEARN for its part, intends to consolidate its support for the party-list Akbayan to achieve three seats in the House of Representatives. At present, Akbayan occupies two legislative seats after the party-list elections in 2000. Other significant thrusts for LEARN this year will be the development of its own research, website, and cooperative initiatives.