World Solidarity Movement (WSM) functions in several countries worldwide and in Asia it works in India, Nepal and Bangladesh and Philippines, Indonesia and Cambodia in Southeast Asia.
Its Asia coordinator Bruno Deceukelier, who is here to participate in the fifth Congress of Confederation of Free Trade Unions of India (CFTUI), WSM focuses on right to social protection which is one of the four pillars of the ILO: job creation, social dialogue, social protection and labour standards.
Social protection as a key element to lifting people out of poverty making the work relations contribute to more sustainable and inclusive society, he says.
For many trade unions it is still a challenge to organise people in the unorganised sector. Besides, other strategies of organising social protection is a key element to be able to organise workers by getting identity cards for them, lobbying for social security schemes and identifying workers that can apply for social schemes.
“Social security and social protection are key to accompanying the transition from informal to formal economy,” says Mr. Deceukelier.
On the status of social security schemes in the country, he says, quoting a study they made, that often ignorance on the part of workers on existing schemes and due to frequent change in modalities people are not aware of them or do not know how to apply for them.
He sees a big role for trade unions in educating workers and facilitating their access to social protection. “We noticed that in Tamil Nadu of the specific budget allocated only 25 % of the money in the social security schemes was paid.
Money is available but workers are unaware and it is not being used. It becomes hard to advocate for more money or better schemes if the ones that are already in place are being utilised fully,” he says.
On workers in the organised sector becoming more vulnerable, he says in Nepal earlier, labour laws did not apply to unorganised workers. But since August they have been getting recognition.
18 partners in Asia
In Asia, WSM has 18 partners, some of them are trade unions and other social organisations taking care of health issues. In Bangladesh there is a lot of focus on rural women and pregnancy, post-natal care and also on catastrophes like flooding and climate change affecting economies, and polluting industries. In India, WSM is active in giving a platform to domestic workers by working with their federation.
Associated with trade unions not directly aligned with political parties in India, WSM works with CFTUI and non-aligned trade unions like SEWA in India.