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1. At their 13th Meeting held from 14 to 15 May 1999 in Yangon, Myanmar,
ASEAN Labour Ministers discussed the decisions of the
Sixth ASEAN Summit held in December 1998, the impact of the financial and
economic crisis on labour and employment and a
range of ILO matters before the International Labour Organisation.

2. The ASEAN Labour Ministers shared the concern expressed by ASEAN Leaders
at the Summit over the social dimension of the
financial crisis, with the poor and vulnerable segments of the Member
Countries most badly affected. The Ministers agreed that
efforts to safeguard the interests of the poor should be an integral part
of the recovery process. They also expressed strong support for
the attention accorded to labour and employment issues in the Hanoi
Declaration and the Hanoi Plan of Action adopted by the
ASEAN Leaders at the Summit.

3. In reiterating the Summit?s call for the maintenance and creation of
employment as critical elements in economic recovery, the
Ministers emphasised the importance of continuous training and upgrading of
the region?s workforce to meet the demands and
opportunities presented by the labour markets of today and tomorrow. The
Ministers observed that efforts to enhance the
employability of workers had been an on-going concern of ASEAN cooperation
in labour affairs.

4. The Ministers also noted that on-going ASEAN labour projects on informal
sector development, human resources development
planning, occupational safety and health and skills standards were in line
with the priorities of the Hanoi Plan of Action. These
projects, they observed, would contribute towards alleviating unemployment,
and improving the quality of the region?s labour force,
thus facilitating the region?s early recovery from the crisis. The ASEAN
Ministers noted in particular two ASEAN projects, the
ASEAN Regional Project on Human Resource Development Planning and Promotion
of Self-Employment and Development in the
Informal Sector/ASEAN Regional Project on Informal Sector Development,
which directly address issues pertinent to strategies to
promote employment in the recovery process.

5. The Ministers also exchanged views and national experiences on measures
taken to address the social impact of the crisis on
labour and employment. They agreed that in order for ASEAN to get back
fully on the path of sustained development and growth, it

was important to continue action at the national and international levels
to promote employment and provide social protection.

6. At the ASEAN Labour Ministers Meeting held in 1998, the Ministers had
agreed to develop a work programme to deal with the
issues of labour and employment arising from the crisis. In response, the
ASEAN Secretariat prepared, with the cooperation of the
United Nations Development Programme, the draft Sub-Programme encompassing
the following:

     The sharing and exchange of experiences and best practices in
designing social protection and social security systems;

    The promotion of tripartite cooperation in economic restructuring,
including the strengthening of tripartite institutions and of
    mediation and conciliation machinery; and

    The enhancement of capacity for designing programmes and policies on
employment generation.

7. ASEAN Labour Ministers also discussed the ASEAN position on issues
before the International Labour Organisation (ILO). On
the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and its
follow-up mechanism, the Ministers welcomed the
assurances by the Director-General of ILO that the Declaration and its
follow-up would be promotional in nature. The Ministers
welcomed the assurances given by the Governing Body of the ILO that the
Declaration and its follow-up mechanism would not
impose new obligations on member States, nor would it lead to
double-scrutiny of the situation. The Ministers were also pleased to
note that the ILO had set aside more resources for technical assistance to
member States, which would help them ratify and
implement ILO core conventions.

8. On the issue of labour standards and trade, the Ministers recalled the
decision of the World Trade Organisation Ministerial
Meeting held in Singapore in December 1996, which stressed that labour
standards should not be invoked for trade protectionist
purposes. The Ministers reiterated that the promotion of labour standards
and workers? rights should be the domain solely of the
ILO and not of any other international body, and that the ILO Declaration
and its follow-up mechanism should not be used for
trade protectionist purposes.

9. The Ministers called on the ILO to devote more resources to technical
assistance in the ASEAN region. The Ministers also urged
the ILO to review the ILO conventions, particularly the earlier ones, to
better reflect the current social and economic conditions of
all ILO member States.

10. The Ministers reiterated their position that ASEAN does not condone
child labour and emphasised that condemning child
labour in any particular country or imposing sanctions would not solve the
problem at its roots but would instead aggravate the
situation. They also reiterated that the root cause of child labour is
poverty, for which the best solution would be job creation, basic
education, training, and social services. 

11. The 14th ASEAN Labour Ministers Meeting will be hosted by the
Philippines in May 2000.

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