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Subject:  _The_Thirteenth_ASEAN_Labour_Ministers_ Meeting

Joint Communiqui

     The Thirteenth ASEAN Labour Ministers Meeting
           14-15 May 1999, Yangon, Myanmar

1. The Thirteenth ASEAN Labour Ministers Meeting was convened from 14 to 15
May 1999, preceded by the ASEAN Senior
Labour Officials Meeting held from 12 to 13 May 1999, and the Sixth Meeting
of the ASEAN Sub-Committee on Labour Affairs
held from 10 to 11 May 1999, in Yangon, Myanmar. 

2. The Meeting was officially opened by His Excellency Lieutenant-General
Khin Nyunt, Secretary (1) of the State Peace and
Development Council of the Union of Myanmar. In his Keynote Speech,
Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt welcomed all delegates
from Member Countries, particularly from Cambodia which attended the
Meeting for the first time as an ASEAN Member Country
 . He noted that it was a historic occasion for Myanmar as it was the first
time for Myanmar to host an ASEAN Ministerial Meeting.
He also noted that the 13th ASEAN Labour Ministers Meeting (ALMM) was the
first ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in which all ten
Southeast Asian nations were represented as full ASEAN Members. 

3. In recognising the fast-paced progress of globalisation, H.E.
Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt stated that each region and country
must try to develop its full potential if it is not to be marginalised. He
also noted that the economic downturn experienced in the
region had drawn forth pessimistic forecasts, but stated his confidence
that the setback was temporary in nature and that signs of
recovery were already emerging. He stressed, however, the importance of
enhancing productivity and competitiveness. In this regard,
the upgrading of human resources and the strengthening of capacities and
skills of the labour force were of great importance.

4. H.E. Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt informed ASEAN Labour Ministers of
the measures being taken at the national level for
economic and social development, as well as the present efforts and
initiatives of Myanmar in the field of labour at all levels. In this
connection, he emphasised Myanmar?s full endorsement of the ASEAN position
regarding the ILO Declaration on Fundamental
Rights of Workers. He concluded by reiterating Myanmar?s commitment to work
with fellow ASEAN Member Countries as well as
the international community in bringing a better future not only for the
labour sector, but for all citizens of the world.

5. The Meeting was attended by H.E. Pehin Dato Haji Isa Ibrahim, Minister
of Home Affairs of Brunei Darussalam; H.E. Mr. Ith
Sam Heng, Minister of Social Affairs, Labour, Vocational Training and Youth
Rehabilitation of the Royal Government of
Cambodia; Mr. Suwarto, Secretary General of the Department of Manpower of
the Republic of Indonesia; H.E. Mr. Somphane
Phengkhammy, Minister of Labour and Social Welfare of the Lao People's
Democratic Republic; H.E. Dato' Lim Ah Lek, Minister
of Human Resources of Malaysia; H.E. Major-General Tin Ngwe, Minister of
Labour of the Union of Myanmar; H.E. Mr.
Bienvenido E. Laguesma, Secretary of Labour and Employment of the Republic
of the Philippines; H.E. Mr. Othman Haron Eusofe,
Minister of State for Manpower of the Republic of Singapore; H.E. Mr.
Sompong Amornvivat, Minister of Labour and Social
Welfare of Thailand; H.E. Madam Nguyen Thi Hang, Minister of Labour,
Invalids and Social Affairs of the Socialist Republic of
Viet Nam; H.E. Mr. Rodolfo C. Severino, Jr., Secretary-General of ASEAN,
and their respective delegations. 

6. The Ministers welcomed Cambodia who was attending the ASEAN Labour
Ministers Meeting for the first time as a full member

7. His Excellency Major-General Tin Ngwe, Minister of Labour of the Union
of Myanmar and His Excellency Mr. Bienvenido E.
Laguesma, Secretary of Labour and Employment of the Philippines were
unanimously elected Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the
Meeting, respectively. 

8. As host of the 13th ASEAN Labour Ministers Meeting, Major-General Tin
Ngwe extended a warm welcome to the Ministers and
their delegations, particularly to Cambodia which was attending the Meeting
for the first time as a full member of ASEAN. He
recalled the successive progress achieved by the ASEAN Labour Ministers
since their first meeting in 1975, in working towards the
realisation of the objectives to improve the social and economic conditions
of workers in the region and to foster technical
cooperation in the field of labour.

9. The Minister noted that with ASEAN Vision 2020 and the Hanoi Plan of
Action, ASEAN now had a road map set to plan future
development activities and to translate the vision of ASEAN Leaders into
reality. He emphasised the importance of intensifying
contacts and cooperation, thereby enhancing mutual understanding of the
true situation prevailing in each Member Country, so as
to strengthen ASEAN unity and solidarity in overcoming the challenges that
lie ahead. Major-General Tin Ngwe also took the
opportunity of the occasion to inform ASEAN Labour Ministers of Myanmar?s
efforts in labour affairs, both at national and
international fora. He concluded by expressing his confidence that the
spirit of ASEAN solidarity and cordiality, as the driving force
behind the success of ASEAN efforts for progress in labour and social
fields, would also contribute to the accomplishment of the
agenda of the 13th ASEAN Labour Ministers Meeting.

The Sixth ASEAN Summit

10. The Ministers shared the concern of the Sixth ASEAN Summit that the
financial crisis has a social dimension, with the poor
and vulnerable segments of the Member Countries being the most adversely
affected, and 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
Sixth ASEAN Summit held in Hanoi in December 1998.

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

12. 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 are in line
with the priorities of the Hanoi Plan of Action, and will
contribute towards alleviating unemployment as well as improve the quality
of the region?s labour force, thus facilitating the
region?s early recovery from the crisis.

Impact of the Crisis on Labour and Employment

13. The Ministers expressed their continued concern with the wide-ranging
social impact of the financial and economic crisis in
ASEAN, which had also adversely affected the labour and employment
situation in the region. They reaffirmed the ASEAN
Leaders? commitment stated at the Sixth ASEAN Summit to safeguard the
interests of the poor. The Ministers emphasised the
importance of employment creation as a strategy for poverty alleviation.

14. The Ministers noted that the Asian financial and economic crisis had
adversely affected, in varying degrees, the labour and
employment situation among ASEAN Member Countries. They also noted the
various measures undertaken by each Member
Country in responding to the crisis. At the same time, they emphasised the
importance of continuing action at the national and
international levels in order for ASEAN to get back fully on the path of
sustained development and growth.

15. The Ministers expressed appreciation to the ASEAN Secretariat for
formulating an ASEAN programme to address the labour
and employment impacts of the crisis, with the following elements: 

  a.sharing and exchange of experience and best practices in developing
social protection and social security systems;

  b.promoting tripartite cooperation through increased consultations among
the social partners, in relation to economic
    restructuring including strengthening of tripartite institutions and
mediation/ conciliation mechanisms; and 

  c.enhancing capacity for designing programmes or policies on employment
generation, focusing on active labour market policies
    and re-training.

16. The Ministers emphasised the urgency of implementing the ASEAN work
programme to address the labour and employment
impact of the crisis but at the same time, expressed concern over the delay
in the release of funds for this programme. Accordingly,
the Ministers looked forward to the programme?s expeditious implementation.
The Ministers noted that funding and technical

assistance from various international donor institutions have become even
more important to the Member Countries in view of the
Asian financial and economic crisis. They requested the ASEAN Secretariat
to explore alternative funding sources to implement
the programme. At the same time, the Ministers encouraged Member Countries
to consider cost-sharing arrangements to
implement the programme.

ILO Matters

ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and Its Follow-Up

17. On the ILO Declaration on the Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work
adopted at the 86th Session of the ILC in June 1998,
the ASEAN Labour Ministers welcomed the decision and assurances by the ILO
Director-General that the Declaration and its
follow-up would be promotional in nature. This would be in line with the
principle that member States are encouraged to respect
the fundamental principles and rights at work. A promotional approach would
enable member States to work towards the objectives
of the Declaration, and this would, in the long term, lead to the eventual
ratification of more conventions based on their respective
stage of economic and social development.

18. The Ministers also welcomed the assurances given by the Governing Body
of the ILO that the Declaration and its follow-up
mechanism will not impose new obligations on member States nor will it lead
to double-scrutiny of the situation. 

19. The Ministers were also pleased to note that the ILO had set aside more
resources for technical assistance to member States. This
would help member states to enhance their capacity to make the necessary
adjustments leading to the ratification and
implementation of ILO core conventions.

Trade and Labour Standards

20. On the issue of labour standards and trade, the Ministers noted the
decision of the WTO Ministerial Meeting held in Singapore
in December 1996 and the ILO Declaration which stressed that labour
standards should not be invoked for trade protectionist
purposes. In this regard, 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
Declaration and its follow-up mechanism should not be used
for trade protectionist purposes. It would therefore be unnecessary and
inappropriate for other international bodies to discuss and
include the promotion and compliance of core labour standards with the view
to linking them with trade and non-labour related
matters. The ILO, being the only tripartite international organisation with
high-level representation from governments, employers
and workers throughout the world, is the relevant body to promote and deal
with issues relating to labour standards and workers?

ILO Reform 

21. In line with the efforts made by the new Director-General of ILO to
restructure the ILO?s activities, the Ministers expressed
their strong support and expectation that the ILO be further streamlined to
make it more effective. Accordingly, more resources
should be allocated to stimulate activities in the ASEAN region as well as
in all ILO member States, by intensifying technical
cooperation and assistance. 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.

Extreme Forms of Child Labour

22. The Ministers reiterated their position that ASEAN does not condone
child labour, and emphasised that condemning child
labour in any particular country or instituting sanctions-based measures
would not solve the problem at its roots but would
aggravate the situation instead. They also reiterated that the most
important cause of child labour is poverty and that the best
solution is to eradicate poverty by generating sustainable and gainful
employment, expanding and improving the quality of basic
education, training, and social services, as well as promoting and
enhancing regional and international cooperation.

23. The Ministers welcomed in principle the proposed convention and a
recommendation on "Child Labour" which called for the
prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour. The
Ministers noted that "Child Labour" will be included in the
Agenda of the 87th Session of the ILC, for its second discussion. 

ASEAN Projects 

24. The Ministers noted the progress in the implementation of the ongoing
ASEAN projects in the field of labour. They noted with
appreciation the efforts made by Member Countries to accelerate the
implementation of priority activities under the projects,
ASEAN Occupational Safety and Health Network (ASEAN-OSHNET) and Promotion
of Self-Employment and Development in the
Informal Sector, which are part of the effort to address the concerns of
the ASEAN Leaders regarding labour and employment

25. The Ministers expressed appreciation to Thailand for agreeing to host
the 3rd ASEAN Skills Competition in December 2000,
and also to Indonesia for offering to host the 4th ASEAN Skills Competition
in the year 2001. The Ministers observed that the skills
competitions will promote the mutual recognition of skills standards in
ASEAN, and therefore are in line with the Hanoi Plan of
Action priority area on promoting "regional mobility and mutual recognition
of technical and professional credentials and skills

26. Noting that the projects, ASEAN Project on Human Resource Development
Planning and ASEAN Programme on Industrial
Relations, address issues pertinent to strategies for promoting employment
in the recovery process, the Ministers called for the
speedy implementation of the projects. In this regard, the Ministers urged
the UNDP and the ILO to consider urgent measures to
implement the ASEAN Project on Human Resource Development Planning without
delay. With respect to the project, ASEAN
Programme on Industrial Relations, the Ministers urged the ILO to expedite
preparations to implement the project.

27. The Ministers expressed deep appreciation to the Central Officials
Training Institute of the Republic of Korea (ROK) for
proposing to implement a fourth phase of the project Human Resources
Development Programme for Officials of ASEAN
Countries, for funding under the ASEAN-ROK Special Cooperation Fund. They
noted that previous phases of the programme have
promoted the exchange of experiences on human resources development between
ASEAN and ROK officials and that the focus of
this year?s programme on the ROK?s response to the impact of the financial
crisis on human resources development matters would

especially benefit ASEAN officials.


28. The delegations of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR,
Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet
Nam expressed their deep appreciation to the Government and the people of
the Union of Myanmar for the generous hospitality
extended to the delegations and the excellent arrangements made for the
Meeting. The Ministers also registered their sincere
appreciation to the ASEAN Secretariat for its valuable contributions to the
success of the Meeting. 

29. The Ministers welcomed with appreciation the Philippine?s gracious
offer to host the 14th ASEAN Labour Ministers Meeting in
the Philippines in May 2000. 

30. The Meeting was held in the tradition of ASEAN cordiality and solidarity.

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