17th Asia and the Pacific Regional Meeting (APRM)

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    Recently, International workers’ groups criticised India’s labour policies, including four new labour codes, at the 17th Asia and the Pacific Regional Meeting (APRM) of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) held at Singapore.

    Key Points Highlighted 

    • India’s new labour codes violates the tripartite agreements — between workers, employers and the government — and gives a free hand to employers.
      • The power of inspection has been left with employers through the new codes, and it will threaten the tripartite system in the country. 
      • Trade unions in India have been opposing such policies.
    • Other Challenges 
      • India has the largest youth population in the world.
      • The country is observing a technological and entrepreneurial boom with start-ups and small businesses mushrooming across the country. 
      • 90% of the workforce belongs to the unorganised sector and there are persistent challenges of low-paid jobs and poor working conditions.
      • Declining productivity growth has a negative impact on workers, on the sustainability of enterprises — especially micro, small and medium-sized enterprises — on economies, and on communities. 

    Asia and the Pacific Regional Meeting (APRM)

    • About: 
      • It brings together representatives of governments, employers’ and workers’ organisations from Asia, the Pacific and the Arab states. 
      • The 17th APRM comes at an important juncture for the world of work as the region faces multiple challenges, including the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic compounded by the global food, energy and finance crises. 
      • The Meeting offers a timely opportunity to reconfirm decent work and social justice as the driving forces for a human-centred recovery that is inclusive, sustainable and resilient. 
      • 2022 APRM will discuss action to enhance job-rich growth that is inclusive and transformative, as well as measures to strengthen regional cooperation and multilateralism on world of work issues. 
        • It will also help forge commitment among the tripartite constituents on common priorities for action that will help shape ILO’s work in both regions for years to come.
    • 4 key Thematic Areas:
      • Thematic area 1: Integrated policy agenda for a human-centred recovery that is inclusive, sustainable and resilient
      • Thematic area 2: Institutional framework to support transitions towards formality and decent work
      • Thematic area 3: Strong foundations for social and employment protection and resilience
      • Thematic area 4: Revitalising productivity growth and skills for more and better jobs

    Suggestions

    • Enhancing productivity will be critical to economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work. 
    • Recognising persisting skills challenges and that effective and demand-driven skills development.
    • Lifelong learning benefits governments, employers and workers by advancing and promoting employability, sustainable development, productivity growth and economic prosperity. 
    • Digital skills, core skills, entrepreneurial skills and soft skills should be better harnessed.
    • Identifying workers in the unorganised sector and prioritising their needs through platforms like the E-Shram portal 
    • Extending health coverage through ESIC, to extend universal social security that is leading to reduction in inequality. 
      • Till date, about 29 crore unorganised sector workers have been registered on the E-Shram portal in our country.

    Best Practice: The Progressive Wage Model (Singapore)

    • The approach provides a roadmap to raise lower-wage workers’ wages at a sustainable pace, avoiding job losses, which could hurt workers’ livelihoods. 
    • This is done by raising wages in tandem with productivity growth achieved through upskilling workers and transforming businesses. 
    • By 2023, the Progressive Wage Model will be expanded to cover more than 8 in 10 full-time lower-wage workers.
    • This approach has helped to raise real income at the 20th percentile of full-time employed residents by 2.7% per annum from 2016 to 2021, compared to the median income growth of 2.1% per annum, helping to reduce the income gap.

    Source: ILO + TH + ILO