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  • Interview with Arun Kumar, Program Manager of ILO Actrav
DATE: 2011-10-04 VIEW: 113
CATEGORY: Exchange and Cooperation

"I hope to enhance the quality of education for Asian workers"

Trade Union officials in Asia visited Korea to participate in an international trade union workshop from September 26 to 30. This workshop was co-organized by Korea International Labour Foundation and the International Training Center of the ILO. The theme of this year's workshop, which is the 2nd in its kind following last year's workshop, was 'Employment Relations and Decent Work (with a focus on FoA and right to collective bargaining)'.

A total of 23 unionists from 12 Asian countries participated in the workshop. The countries are: Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore (UNI), Sri Lanka, and Vietnam as well as Korea.

The Daily Labor News met Mr. Arun Kumar, Program Manager of this workshop at the Lexington Hotel in Seoul on September 27 afternoon. He had worked for the HMS of India until he moved to Actrav, ITC of the ILO in 2006 in charge of education for trade unions.

- Briefly introduce the ITC, ILO.

"The ITC is an education arm of the ILO. Actrav aims to improve workers' capacity but there are other branches to enhance that of other social players such as employers and the government. The purpose of this training is to promote decent work for all. There are various areas to achieve this goal such as occupational safety and health, social security, international labor standards, environment and green job, freedom of association and organizing, and etc."

- What is the background of this workshop?

"This workshop was initiated last year as part of cooperation between the ITC and KOILAF to enhance education for Asian workers. Last year's theme was decent work for migrant workers. This year, we talk about how to improve workers' capacity amidst changing labor relations. Another purpose is to give the participants opportunities to get information on the Korean labor movement. For this, we requested the FKTU and the KCTU to participate in the workshop."

- What is the role of trade union for decent work?

"Decent work can be achieved by promoting individual worker’s aspiration for it and by approaching it from collective dimensions, which are represented by freedom of association and right to collective bargaining. No decent work is possible if there is no trade union. Since every country has a different situation, the ILO recommends them to solve their problems through social dialogue to create decent work. Trade unions can provide their experience and knowledge learned on the field to the government in coming up with related policies. Trade unions should struggle to organize workers. When workers are organized, unions can pressure the government to build policies for decent work, social security, and health and safety."

- When the participants return to their home countries, what will they do?

"In the last session of this workshop program, the participants have to prepare follow-up work plan. Each participant represents his/her organization and needs to contribute to enhancing the capacity of his/her own organization and should do something to promote decent work of his/her country. The follow-up work plan should not be necessarily something great. If they can contribute something small to their organization and country, it is enough. Actrav ITC of ILO helps them to find a link between them."

- You mentioned Korea’s experience in labor relations

"In this year’s program, there are sessions on Korea’s labor relations. I think there are many things to learn from Korea’s labor relations. By learning from Korean experience, the participants will learn what can be done and what shouldn’t be done for the development of their labor relations. Korea’s labor relations have a lot of implications for workers in Asian countries. It will be a good opportunity to learn both difficulties and achievements of Korea."

- What themes would you like to deal with in the future?

"The ultimate goal will still be decent work. But decent work has many aspects. If we can hold this workshop next year again in Korea, I'm thinking of having social security policy and organizing strategy in this regard as next year’ topics. But concrete topics should be decided in close cooperation with KOILAF as well as two national centers of Korea, the FKTU and the KCTU."

The ITC annually has 8-10 similar programs in Asian countries including programs carried out in the Turin center, too. He said, "These programs are contributing to solidifying Trade Unionism in Asia and strengthening cooperation with trade union confederations in the region."

(* This is re-translated into English based on the Korean interview article)

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