As the effects of Covid and rising authoritarianism ravage much of our region, UnionAID’s Michael Naylor asks us to dig deep for their appeal.
Five months on from the shock military coup in Myanmar and public servants continue to lead the resistance through strike action and the civil disobedience movement.
Tens of thousands of public servants are still refusing to work for the illegal military junta, even if it means months of no pay and hardship.
Others have paid a higher price with reports received by UnionAID showing 2,414 public sector staff suspended, dismissed or arrested for their action. This number is likely to be just the tip of the iceberg.
The coup and ensuing crisis in Myanmar is a horrifying example of the perfect storm that is currently facing millions of working people in our Asia-Pacific region.
When I talk to UnionAID’s partners in countries like Thailand, Bangladesh and the Philippines they tell me that Covid-19 coupled with rising authoritarianism has made it a devastating year, especially for working men and women on low wages and in the informal economy.
PAIN IN THE PACIFIC
In the Pacific working people are also feeling the pain of closed borders and economic recession. In Fiji lockdown is compounding a year of recession to push families into real hardship.
In the Solomon Islands our partner, the Workers Union of Solomon Islands (WUSI) has been reaching out to hundreds of local government staff who have lost jobs or seen their hours drastically cut. The World Bank estimates that globally 120 million people fell into extreme poverty last year.
It doesn’t have to be this way and unions are fighting back to protect worker rights, create decent jobs and demand a fair recovery. But it is a huge challenge and they need our support.
YOU CAN HELP
UnionAID is holding a special appeal calling for donations from NZ union members, so it can provide unions in developing countries with resources and tools they need to organise, to provide education and training and build strong unions for working people.
The funds raised will go towards helping hold the big brands to account during the pandemic, and sustaining brave campaigns for human rights against authoritarian and military governments in Myanmar, Thailand and the Philippines.
Please dig deep for the UnionAID 2021 Appeal to make sure our working people and unions around our Asia-Pacific region can keep up the fight for a better post-Covid world. 2021 Appeal – UnionAID
Main photo caption: Confederated Trade Unions of Myanmar Protest