The Asia Social Dialogue Forum opened on November 12 in Seoul, organized by the South Korean Economic, Social and Labor Council (ESLC) with the support of the International Association of Economic and Social Councils and Similar Institutions (AICESIS).
A delegation of the Russian Civic Chamber is taking part in the forum as a member of the AICESIS from the Asian regional group.
The delegation includes Artyom Kiryanov
, First Deputy Chair of the Commission on Public Control and Cooperation with Public Councils, and Olga Golyshenkova
, a member of the Commission on Development of Economy, Entrepreneurship, Service Sector and Consumer Market.
The forum is attended by representatives of 13 countries: Algeria, Bangladesh, Vietnam, India, Indonesia, Cambodia, China, Korea, Cote d’Ivoire, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia and Sri Lanka.
Opening the forum, South Korean Assistant Minister of Employment and Labor Hwa Jin Park welcomed the guests from 12 countries who arrived in Seoul to participate in the forum.
“Korea hosted the first ASDF in 2008, and we are pleased to welcome everyone to Seoul again,” he said. “The International Monetary Fund and the Asian Development Bank in their recent forecasts predicted a slowdown in economic growth in Asia because of the trade wars between China and the United States, Korea and Japan, as well as geopolitical instability in the world. On the other hand, the fourth industrial revolution has brought new challenges such as robots replacing human operators in many jobs, expansion in employment types and a growing polarization of society – challenges that we can only respond to through a tripartite dialogue between trade unions, employers and the state. Since the current administration came into office in Korea, we have taken a number of steps to strengthen social dialogue; in particular, we reformed the ESLC, reorganizing it as a center that links the interests of all parties, including youth, freelancers, women and small business owners.”
ESLC Chairperson Sung Hyun Moon said the first trilateral dialogue organization in Korea was created 20 years ago, when the country suffered from the financial crisis. Later, that organization was transformed into the Economic, Social, and Labor Council.
“A social dialogue based on trust between workers and employers, with the active involvement of the state, provides the most balanced responses to the challenges of our time,” Sung Hyun Moon said. “Many Asian countries have experiences similar to the path that Korea has taken during its democratization and industrialization, overcoming the consequences of colonial rule and civil war. Inviting representatives of other Asian countries to the ASDF, we hope to exchange experiences and best practices at the regional level and establish working relationships to ensure a better future for everyone.”
In their remarks, the forum participants presented various approaches to addressing socioeconomic problems in their countries through trilateral dialogue organizations. Underscoring the important role of such tripartite dialogue, Partha Pratim Mitra from India said this dialogue is a time-tested mechanism for creating a climate of confidence that contributes to the growth of production and labor productivity and, as a result, faster economic development.
A representative of China, Qu Bo, said that building “harmonious production relations is one of the most important priorities of the Chinese government and the Communist Party of China.”
“While in 1949, the number of wage workers in Chinese cities was 15.33 million with an unemployment rate of 23.6 percent, in 2018, their number was as high as 775.86 million with an unemployment rate of 4.1 percent,” Qu Bo said. “At the same time, in 2018 there were 2.73 million trade unions in China with a membership of 295 million wage workers.”
In his remarks, Artyom Kiryanov described the Civic Chamber’s role in identifying and resolving issues of social significance and spoke about its priorities such as improving people’s living conditions, combating poverty and reducing inequality in Russia. He emphasized that social dialogue does not boil down to trade union activities, but has a number of other equally significant dimensions, and that Russia can share its experience in organizing the process of public control and its legislative support.
“The international discussion of public control practices, the interaction of the state and the citizens is no doubt important. For us, as well as for our colleagues from Asia, the working interaction format is a guarantee of deep mutual understanding and fruitful cooperation,” Artyom Kiryanov noted.
Olga Golyshenkova spoke about the youth dimension of social dialogue, mostly reflected in the problems of youth career guidance and navigation in the labor market: both young people and their parents are struggling to figure out which professions are future-oriented, and what needs to be done for their talents to be fully uncovered in employment and career development.
“We at the Civic Chamber deem it necessary to set up a Coordinating Council for the development of communities of young professionals in order to promote professional and industry values and labor values in general. We do not think it is enough to view social dialogue as the “workers−employers−the state” framework, because there is more to it in today’s fight for talents. We need to work with potential employees – children and youth,” she concluded before asking representatives of other countries to share their experience in attracting young people to relevant professions, their professionalization, and social and labor adaptation.
Seoul is hosting the 4th Asia Social Dialogue Forum. The first convention took place in South Korea in 2008, the second in China in 2010, and the third in Thailand in 2012.