About this site

This website focuses on issues regarding social protection in Asia and the activities done by the Asia Network on the Right to Social Protection (ANRSP) and its members. It is under the editorial oversight from the Asia Steering Committee, composed out of members from India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Cambodia, Indonesia and Philippines. It is meant to foster dialogue and share experiences.
The articles describe challenges and achievements to improve the right to social protection to workers in the region, with a specific focus to gender, youth and informal workers.

16 May 2019

The Global Charter for universal Social Protection promoted towards the Asian Development Bank

ADB President Takehiko Nakao reads
the Global Charter for Universal Social Protection Rights and Principles
during the Meeting between CSOs and ADB Senior Management
NGO Forum on ADB was able to further the cause of the Global Charter for Universal Social Protection by bringing it to the 52nd Asian Development Bank (ADB) Annual Meeting in Nadi, Fiji last May 1-5, 2019.

1. The Global Charter for Universal Social Protection (and principles) was presented and given to ADB President Takehiko Nakao during the CSO Dialogue with the President.

Rayyan Hassan, executive director of the Forum, explained the need for the ADB to fully support and adapt the charter and the principles.  After the explanation, a copy was handed to President Nakao and NGO and Civil Society Center Head, Chris Morris. You can see the video here (social protection segment at 23:57).

2. During the discussion on ADB's Strategy 2030, NGO Forum on ADB also pushed for the adaptation of the Global Charter for Universal Social Protection especially in the area of "Addressing remaining poverty and reducing inequalities" (Operational Priority 1).  The charter and the principle was also endorsed and given to Ms. Wendy Walker, the lead person of operational priority 1.  She, in turn, said that she would like to hear more regarding the charter once we come back to Manila and it is expected that there will be a series of meetings between the office of Ms. Walker and NGO Forum on ADB re: social protection

3. The charter and principle was also a major part of the panel "Unpacking the Delivery of ADB’s Safeguard Policy Statement" where the Forum expressed its belief that there is no clear policy framework in ensuring safeguards in ADB supported projects. speciall those that are co-financed with other multilateral development banks. Emphasis was given by the speakers on the issue of social justice and protection.  Two individuals from the Indian National Rural Labor Federation (INRLF), Tamil Nadu State, India Sitaram Saini, President of All Himachal PWD & IPH Contractual Workers Union (AHPWDIPHCWU), Himachal Pradesh State, India with the assistance of Building and Wood Workers' International (BWI) was able to speak in the panel session and share their experiences (you can watch the video here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=56qd_s3jRzo&feature=youtu.be).
Third, copies of the Global Charter for Universal Social Protection (and principles) were given out to the attendees of the NGO Forum sessions, and inquiries about the charter and principles were discussed by the Forum members, including why the Forum network is endorsing it.  There were dialogues around the charter and the principles amongst other NGO's attending the event, most significant is the interest of Pacific groups who shares thesame sentiments.

4. The charter was also given to the following ADB Officials:
  1. Head of the Sustainable Development and Climate Change Department (SDCC)
  2. Board of Directors
  3. Alternate Directors 
As of May 10, 2019 several ADB Officials expressed their intention to meet with NGO Forum on ADB regarding social protection including Alternate Director Helmut Fischer (alternate director for Austria / Germany / Luxembourg / Turkey / United Kingdom) and the Office of Director General Woochong Um.

08 March 2019

India: SWATE from AREDS observes International Women’s Day

Besides facilitating the grassroots women to improve themselves economically and socially, SWATE has been conducting programmes to enhance their political awareness. Further, it has been fighting for ascertaining justice whenever women and girl children are subjected to sexual abuse and to any form of violence. Various women’s movements are fighting for women’s freedom and gender equality. As a token of extending solidarity to the international movement for women’s emancipation, SWATE observes the International Women’s Day every year. This year, it focused on five issues:

  1. Total prohibition of liquor, 
  2. Employment for youth,
  3. Gender equality and ending violence against women, 
  4. Free and fair election, 
  5. Promoting organic farming.

01 March 2019

India: Draft Social Security Code: what does it mean for unorganized workers and domestic workers

The Indian Government is in the process of replacing 44 labour laws by 4 codes namely Wage Code, Industrial Relations Code, Social Security Code, Occupational Health and Safety Code. All four Codes were meant to simplify the existing Labour laws, but end up watering down workers’ rights, in order to promote ease of doing business. 

The Social Security Code would replace 15 existing Social Security Acts. The main problem for NDWM is that it interferes with all the existing Welfare Boards. There will be only one single Social Security Board for both organized and unorganized workers in every state. This would make the numbers dealt with by this Board huge and very difficult to manage.  Deductions towards the Social security Fund would be 12.5 % from workers and 17.5 % from employers, which would seriously affect unorganized labour. 

19 February 2019

Bulgarian whistle-blower: "Working conditions in Bulgaria sometimes worse than in south-east Asia"

Georgi Medarov says he has inside information about the working practices and conditions inside the textile industry across Bulgaria.

Speaking to Euronews' Hans von der Brelie, Medarov claims a ''grey economy' continues to flourish across Bulgaria, insisting social contributions often go unpaid. He also explains how workers are frequently pressured into not taking sick leave and forced to do excessive overtime.

During months of research across the country Medarov, who works for the international Clean Clothes Campaign, an organisation lobbying for better working conditions in textile industry around the world, says he interviewed countless workers in Bulgaria.

To watch the full interview, click on the video link.

22 January 2019

100-year-old ILO prepares for the future

Geneva, January 22, 2019 - The International Labor Organization (ILO) officially launched its centenary with the presentation of the final report of the Global Commission on the Future of Work. As the name suggests, this Commission focused on the Future of Work. Former World Solidarity Chairman and until recently, chairman of the Board of Directors of the ILO, Luc Cortebeeck, also participated in this Committee.

The ILO, when blowing its 100th candle, aims to do 2 things. On the one hand, it looks back on the past as the only tripartite organization in the UN system, where governments, trade unions and employers jointly set out guidelines for social policies worldwide. On the other hand, it wants to look ahead: what challenges do we face in the world of work and what answer can the ILO offer? The Global Commission has focused on this key question since October 2017. Its analysis and recommendations can be found in the report 'Work for a brighter future'.

07 January 2019

Video on the Global Charter for Social Protection Rights

The Social Justice Cluster of the Asia Europe People's Forum presents this video on social protection and on the Global Charter for Social Protection Rights. The video was made with the help of the NGO Forum on ADB. 

The Steering committee of our Asia Network on the Right to Social Protection (ANRSP) has decided to support the charter which will also be discussed at our Asia Seminar in Kathmandu in February 2019.

Please watch the video and distribute it if you can. You can access it by clicking on this link.

27 November 2018

Nepal making strides towards social security

 While in many places, social security is under threat, in Nepal, new historic social security legislation was passed and last week they started the implementation.

In July 2017, after 18 years of lobbying by the trade unions, WSM partners, a universal social security bill was passed which has paved the way for the government to four main social security schemes. For the very first time, all those working in formal and informal sectors will be covered by unemployment, maternity, health, accident, old age and disability benefits. Workers will contribute 11%, while employers 20% and the government will ensure the management of the system.

Of course, passing legislation is an important step, but to guarantee implementation, it needs to be widely known and accepted. In an unprecedented PR move, the government took out adds in all newspapers, covering the entire first page with this news, SMS were send to subscribers, billboards were placed all over town to graphically show the four schemes. The 27th of November was declared National Social Security Day, to be celebrated yearly and offering an opportunity to yearly remind the government of its now very public commitment.

And of course, WSM partners as trade unions gathered many of their members across the country to celebrate and inform workers of these new rights, and they'll be there to help ensure the government rolls out all schemes and doesn't just stop at these four basic schemes.

04 November 2018

ANRSP attends the ASEAN People's Forum

The ANRSP, represented by Bismo and Ath Thorn (Cambodia Steering Committee Member), attended the ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ ASEAN People Forum in Singapore from 2 till 4th of November 2018. ACSC/APF is a gathering of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in Southeast Asia to engage with ASEAN on the issues affecting the region. ASEAN is composed out of 10 countries in South East Asia; Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Cambodia, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar. The 10 states of ASEAN have very different political systems, which are reflected as well in their representatives attending the forum. After initially focusing on lobbying towards, due to the lack of response, ACSC/APF will mainly build an alternative model of regional integration and people’ solidarity across the Southeast Asia region. In Singapore, delegations were limited to maximum 200 peoples or 20 delegations per country -compared to a total of more than 1.000 people in the ACSC/APF Philippines in 2017, certain topics were considered ‘sensitive’ and there were no officials present from ASEAN or Singapore.

01 November 2018

2018 Update on the Bangladesh OHS Initiative

In Bangladesh, WSM and its partners have supported in 2016 till 2018 the OHS Initiative. You can find their latest newsletter here
As an extract, here an email interview with Masud Parvez, previously the Training Manager and now the Project Coordinator of the Bangladesh OHS Initiative for Workers and Community.

What have the participants in the 2017 training course done with their new skills and information?
At the end of the 20-day training course, the first group of participants carried out several training programs for their own organizations, part of the general effort of the participating organizations to make occupational health and safety a part of their regular project activities. Our records show that 20
of the program graduates from the five organizations participating last year carried out a total of 106 training sessions, each lasting from two hours to all day long, for 2,400 participants. Each organization tends to focus on specific topics. For example, some focused on labor law and the role of safety committees, others on hygiene in the workplace, and still others on gender and domestic and workplace violence.
According to our follow-up training plan based on discussions with the member organizations, they will conduct another 108 trainings reaching 2,160 participants by November. These trainings will be
conducted by graduates of both groups, with the new graduates leading two sessions each.

24 October 2018

Bangladesh Labour amendment bill passed

The Bangladesh Labour (Amendment) Bill, 2018 was passed in Parliament on 24th of October 2018 aiming to give more facilities to workers and reducing the workers' threshold to 20 percent from the existing 30 percent for forming trade unions. State Minister for Labour and Employment (Independent Charge) Md Mujibul Haque Chunnu moved the Bill in the House and it was passed by voice vote.The bill was prepared and updated following the observations of the International Labour Organization (ILO) which will be a labour-friendly one.

Under the new law:

  1. the percentage of workers' participation required for forming trade unions at factories will be reduced to 20 percent from the existing 30 percent;
  2. no child will be allowed to work in factories. If anybody employs child workers, then he or she will have to pay a fine of Tk 5,000;
  3. the punishment of workers for violating laws has been reduced by 50 percent while new facilities included for them;
  4. the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishment has been upgraded to the level of Directorate;
  5. The post of the chief inspector of the department is now inspector general, while deputy director general is additional inspector general, and the post of labour director has been upgraded to the rank of director general;
  6. Mentally and physically-challenged labourers cannot be employed in any risky works;
  7. According to section 47 of the Bill, if any female worker gives birth to a baby before informing the authorities, she will get an eight-week leave within three days after informing the authorities. If the factory authorities do not allow her to go on leave, they will be fined Tk 25,000. 
  8. Besides, if any worker does his or her duty during festival, he or she will get a one-day leave and wage for two days after the festival. 
  9. Both owners and workers will be sentenced to one-year jail with a fine of Tk 10,000 for misconduct, which was two years in the previous law. 
  10. Section 195 of the law will be applicable for factory owners and section 196 for labourers and workers. 
  11. In case of natural death, the family of the worker concerned will get Tk 2 lakh as compensation, which was Tk 1 lakh in the previous law, and in the case of injury, they will get Tk 2.50 lakh, which is now Tk 1.25 lakh. 
  12. if the owner is forced to sign or accept anything applying force, issuing threat, confinement, torture and detaching gas, power and water connections, this will be considered as misconduct.
  13. the punishment for enforcing strike illegally has been reduced to six months from one year.
  14. the support of 51 percent workers is needed against present two-thirds of total workers to call a strike. Illegal enforcement of strike will also be considered as misconduct. 
  15. If anyone is found to be a member of a number of trade unions at the same time, he or she will be sentenced to one month's imprisonment which was six months in the previous law. 
  16. According to the ILO convention, the draft law has a scope to form a tripartite advisory council consisting of the government, owners and workers.
  17. the Labour Court will have to deliver judgment in a case within 90 days from the date of filing it and if it is not possible to announce the verdict in the stipulated time, the court must deliver its judgment in the next 90 days. In case of appeal petition, the court will have to pass its order within 90 days. 
  18. the government will have to give registration to a trade union within 55 days from receiving the application which was in 60 days in the previous law.

22 October 2018

Call for contributions for next issue "Decent work - historical and cultural varieties"

The Cologne University's Global South Studies Center has a Call for contributions for its next issue "Decent work - historical and cultural varieties" which is open until 15 November 2018. The web magazine Voices from Around the World presents short analyses, interventions, and other contributions to urgent questions of the Global South – and Global North. The magazine, which was launched by the Global South Studies Center (GSSC) of the University of Cologne (Germany) in 2015, moves beyond rigid spatial, temporal as well as disciplinary boundaries. It aims to kick-start fresh debates by presenting views from thinkers around the globe. One of the web magazine’s unique features is its format. Transgressing traditional academic-style writing, contributors are free to approach each topic in a variety of outlets be it academic texts, essays, interviews, poems, pictures, art expressions or (music) videos. The magazine also acts as a forum for interdisciplinary conversations across a wide variety of social sciences and humanities.

11 October 2018

Steering Committee members talk about the ANRSP

During the AEPF in Ghent in October 2018, we took the opportunity to interview some of the Steering Committee members of the Asia Network on the Right to Social Protection, asking three questions:

  1. What are some of the main achievements?
  2. What is the added value of the ANRSP?
  3. How are we all connected?

The main achievement through the WSM support is that GEFONT was able to organize the young workers within the GEFONT rank and file. We held a first youth conference in Kathmandu and a youth wing at central as well as at province and affiliate level. Secondly, we receive support to organize the migrant workers, basically in Qatar and held a conference there. Another major issue we have been working on with WSM support is the social protection, where we were able to draft a position paper on behalf of the trade unions, which can be used as the main tool while bargaining with the employers and the government, and that I think led to a milestone of social security for Nepal. While GEFONT is a relatively young trade union, the first generation of leaders already crossed sixty years, so we have to bring the young workers in leadership positions, if not, we will not have a future. From generation to generation, a tarde union should be strengthened should keep its capacity to organize the working class and keep its capacity to influence the policies, which is why we create the young workers wings and train them as leaders. Because of the ANRSP, we are able to share our views, and we learn a lot from the other friends, both in and outside of the network. This way, we can implement new things into the ground reality. This is why the network is important and it creates a synergy effect to our movement. We are all connected, not only through the network, also through the different institutions and organizations. This network is a platform with regular coordination, communication and exchanges, which makes it the most important one. Ramesh Badal, GEFONT and Nepal Steering Committee member

We are connected, through WSM but also among the partners of WSM. Let me explain it in this way: GK is a single organisation, and when we partner with WSM, this is one kind of a connection we share, with the technical assistance and other. Then, we have become a network, the Asia Network on the Right to Social Protection. Through that we are connected with some more partners, and we enrich each other through sharing. Through this, we could participate to the Asia Europe People's Forum, and so we are connected in a bigger forum, so this is very helpful, not only for sharing, but also to raise our voice and supporting each other. – Dr Kadir, Bangladesh Steering Committee Member.

WSM contribution to YCW ASPAC is very helpful because as of now, we are continuing our struggle especially in organizing young workers, who are the most vulnerable, not only organizing them, but educating them on their rights and how they are going to develop their skills and capacities in terms of defending their rights. Also how they are going to live and compete in a society where you can only survive if you have skills. Many of the young workers are in the informal sector, they are unorganized.
Being part of the ANRSP brings an added value to our work in YCW ASPAC, for a few years, it has been our demands in YCW ASPAC, the right to SP. Even in our different national movements in Asia, it is our demand, for young workers to have access to Social Protection. But most of the young workers, they don’t understand what social protection means, that it is a right, they aren’t aware. So what we are doing is we are raising awareness on what is social protection, giving education and I think the network really helps us in terms of giving the analysis and giving examples from other members of the ANRSP which can help us to work on the specific alternatives or develop strategies and means to provide or help our members to have access to social protection and help them understand.
Right now, one of the key issues that we are facing is the increasing number of unemployment for young workers. One of the factors for this is the digitalisation of the world of work and also the contractualisation. We have seen that after three or five months, many of the young workers contracts are ended and they fall into the informal sector. This results in the young workers not to be organized or not be part of a union or association. It is really hard for us to organize young workers, they really need to be trained, to be informed and educated about their rights and which capacities they need to improve in order for them to have dignity. I feel like we are connected because we are all from different sectors. We from the YCW ASPAC represent young workers, and here there are members from the health sector, from trade unions, informal and migrant workers. It is very important that all of these sectors come together to jointly demand social protection. These are the sectors that are the victims of not having social protection. When we come together, it is really a good opportunity to learn from each other, to share different strategies on what we are doing in our different organisations. From there, we learn and we can use it in our own organisations. Not only that, coming together gives us power, to resist those issues that are really downgrading the dignity of the people’s rights. Being in this network really makes us connected, allows us to work together and take action together to receive our demands, especially for us to have social protection. Leizyl Salem, Steering Committee Member for the young workers.

Thanks to WSM and the cooperation we have with AREDS has been successful in creating practical alternatives in terms of food, security, and in terms of protection. The study we made with the WSM India partners on social protection for all has led the ILO to use out material and to initiate such kind of micro level studies on social protection for the informal sector. Also, this study has been an instrument to make AREDS and the other partners in India to be part of the Workers’ Charter at the national level, which has been a very great contribution.
The network is very important because the fact that in isolation nothing can be achieved. Only together, with a right minded process of collective nature can give us success, as history has shown us and we have to make it work. Only in solidarity can we achieve things. Being alone and micro-level initiatives, sporadically, spread in different directions cannot lead to policy changes, neither can it bring results for the people we are concerned with. We are connected in a very organic way, firstly because of the synergy the actions we do collectively in India. We also have the W-Connect newsletter that keeps us all together, in expressing and sharing what we do, in different part of the country and the region. Also, joining in many of the events that take place on common thematic workshops, seminars and conferences that are held at regional or international level is the best way to keep alive our thinking and our actions to move forward. Our common values build bridges and this is something that is very unique in my own experiences. Partners are made into one common network, sharing a connection, which I haven’t seen with other organisations or movements. WSM taking that initiative is most appreciated and that is something we need to continue, even through all the difficulties. Samy, AREDS and India Steering Committee Member.

NDWM believes in working in networking because our strength lies in joining hands with other organisations, like trade unions, civil society and faith based organisations, as well as international organisations, because the issues are many and alone we cannot achieve to bring any change. So it is very important that we join with other organisations, those working for our people, and raise our issues. It is not only on the state and national India level, even on the regional level, we need to network to achieve the rights of the migrant and the domestic workers since we feel these are global issues. We see the same issues faced by migrant and domestic workers worldwide. So it is very much needed that we build a network which works at state, national and international level. NDWM is very grateful to WSM and their international cooperation Through WSMs support we could achieve in India a lot of improvements for the domestic workers. Especially in different states we could lobby for domestic workers policies, like welfare boards and minimum wage for the domestic workers.  We are also very happy with the study we have carried out together with the partners with the support of WSM. Through that study, we could do lobby with the government to come up with social protection for the domestic workers, which we will continue, believing that we will one day achieve the demands of the workers. We are connected with each other basically through mails, through Whatsapps and through W-Connect, and through the synergy that we have built up among the India partners. We are also connected by inviting us to participate in different conferences workshops in different places. We feel the connectedness together, and we always feel more connected, person to person  Sometimes we share our good practices, how we are rescuing the migrants with other WSM partners, and we also learn from them, how they are organizing. This is the platform that I feel we give and take. I find this connectedness brings more meaning to us, to know one another, to learn from each other. Sister Vallar, NDWM India and Steering Committee member for migrant workers

09 October 2018

ILO paper on social protection for older persons

The ILO has published a paper on Social Protection for older persons: Key policy trends and statistics 2017-19 (link). This policy paper: (i) provides a global overview of the organization of pension systems and their contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); (ii) monitors SDG indicator 1.3 for older persons, analyses trends and recent policies in 192 countries, including the extension of legal and effective coverage in a large number of low- and middle-income countries, through a mix of contributory and non-contributory schemes; (iii) looks at persisting inequalities in access to income security in old-age; (iv) presents lessons from three decades of pension privatization and the trend to returning to public systems; (v) calls for countries to double their efforts to extend system coverage, including the extension of social protection floors, while at the same time improving the adequacy of benefits.