Message-Id: <>
Date: Wed, 13 Nov 96 09:03:26 CST
From: rich@pencil (Rich Winkel)
Organization: PACH
Subject: Workers under APEC: Another Road to Barbarism

/** reg.seasia: 1087.0 **/
** Topic: Workers under APEC: Another Road to Barbarism **
** Written 4:31 PM Nov 12, 1996 by jagdish in cdp:reg.seasia **
From: Jagdish Parikh <>
Subject: Workers under APEC: Another Road to Barbarism

------- Forwarded Message Follows -------
From: AMRC <amrc@HK.Super.NET> (by way of daga <>)
Subject: AMRC position statement on APEC

Workers under APEC: Another Road to Barbarism

AMRC Position Statement on APEC, 12 November 1996

As an organisation which has been committed to the struggle of genuine, grassroots workers' movements in Asia for the past 20 years, we absolutely reject APEC and its neoliberal agenda promoting globalisation. APEC, like GATT/ WTO and the World Bank, is concerned solely with increasing the power and reach of multinationals in the name of free and fair trade. To achieve this governments of the economies that are members of APEC will use further political, economic and legal repression to deprive working people of their rights and freedom and enforce policies that will generate greater economic inequality and social injustice. The only freedom will be that of multinationals, freed from any form of social regulation and control.

APEC promotes labour flexibility among member economies by demanding complete deregulation of national labour markets and the removal of all forms of government interference in the operation of a regional free labour market. This interference in the free market refers to government regulations, laws and programmes which protect the livelihood and rights of working people. All forms of employment protection, minimum wages and guarantees of job security will be abolished in the name of free and fair trade, and subcontracting, casualisation, declining full- time employment, and the destruction of the collective bargaining power of workers will be become even more widespread than it already is. In following the APEC agenda governments will claim that they must abolish the many of the labour laws and regulations that protect workers' rights, while introducing new regulations which prevent workers from organising against these changes.

It is claimed that deregulation of the labour market will encourage greater efficiency and productivity through market competition, while giving workers the opportunity to cross national borders in search of jobs. A flexible and free labour market means that workers lucky enough to have jobs will be exposed to unrestrained exploitation by multinationals. Competition means that workers will be divided, competing for lower and lower wages, while multinationals relocate factories or import migrant workers in their search for mega-profits. The ultimate expression of this neoliberal capitalist agenda are Export Processing Zones and Free Trade Zones which are prevalent throughout Asia. These Zones were created as special areas within which multinationals can trade freely, pay little or no taxes, and exploit the people and the natural resources of these countries without the threat of sanctions. The incentives offered by governments to foreign investors include low wages, unrestricted working hours, bans on trade unions and collective bargaining, and exclusion from existing labour laws. From the perspective of industrial workers what APEC promises is to turn the Asia-Pacific region into a giant Export Processing Zone.

The APEC agenda will also demand the privatisation of state and public enterprises, leading to massive lay-offs as state monopolies become private monopolies. Working class families throughout the region will also suffer from neoliberal policies on heath, education and social welfare. The privatisation of health, education and social welfare will create an efficient, competitive system that excludes the majority of working people, while the growing number of unemployed workers will be faced with the obligation of workfare rather than the right to welfare. Ultimately the obstructions which are hindering the APEC vision of labour flexibility are those regulations, policies and programmes which organised labour movements have won through working class struggle.

Regardless of whether APEC is able to achieve its aims in 5, 10 or 20 years, it will be a powerful force in closing off possibilities for alternatives forms of social and economic development. Working people will be told that the free market economy is the one and only path to prosperity, and will continue to be subjected to the violence of the free market with little hope of sharing in the prosperity and wealth promised in the coming Pacific Century.

It is on this basis that we must demand the dissolution of all organisations committed to promoting globalisation of the neoliberal capitalist agenda such as APEC, WTO and the World Bank/IMF.