This report will briefly assess in what way and to what extent the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the world of work in the Asia-Pacific (AP) region. It will then examine the government and trade union’s initial responses to the pandemic, and to evaluate their effectiveness in protecting workers and their families’ life and living. It will conclude with a discussion of what lessons can be learned to inform trade unions’ future action.
Trade unions have an indispensable role in securing workers and their families’ lives and livelihoods, especially in a time of crisis. Regrettably, collective bargaining and the tripartite mechanism has not been fully utilized in formulating and administering governments’ initial responses. This is not conducive to social peace and stability and will hamper an inclusive recovery after the virus is contained.
Learning from the lessons thus far, trade unions’ future actions need to focus on four areas: 1) calling for greater international collaboration and cooperation to provide the low and middle income countries with the resources to implement effective relief measures; 2) strengthening social dialogue in formulating a balanced and comprehensive recovery plan; 3) fighting for extending statutory health and social protection coverage to all informal workers; and 4) organizing informal workers to get their voices heard.