Asia

Solidarity Center, India, women

In Asia, the Solidarity Center helps workers build strong unions to defend their fundamental rights at home and abroad, escape abuse and forced labor and hold governments accountable for their economic security.

As the developing Asia-Pacific region (Central Asia, East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific) has modernized and transformed into a global manufacturing hub for multinational corporations, the Asian growth model has been promoted as a development paradigm for emerging economies. The region has seen soaring economic growth over the past 20 years, its gross domestic product (GDP) rising by 6.1 percent in 2013. The region also led the global recovery after the 2009 recession.

Yet this model has created a system of vastly unequal outcomes. The workers who have fueled Asia’s extraordinary economic growth through their labor in factories and the informal economy have not shared in economic prosperity—specifically in the form of increased wages, better benefits or secure work.

As a result, the Asian region has seen the world’s largest out-migration of workers, who are driven to leave their homes in desperation to support their families. Millions of workers from South and Southeast Asia travel to countries around the world, most to the Arabian Gulf, for jobs in fishing, construction and domestic service. Few migrant workers have rights on the job or in the countries where they work.

As global consumer brands chase the lowest costs and highest profits around the globe, Southeast Asia has become a haven for export processing zones (EPZs). Millions of workers desperate for decent wages endure long workdays, forced unpaid overtime and sub-poverty wages. Garment workers, fish processors and others toiling in the EPZs for global manufacturing companies have few or no rights on the job and face daunting obstacles to forming unions. Factory-level union activists are fired and blacklisted, unable to find another job.

Workers in Asia also often risk their lives in unsafe and unhealthy workplaces. Exposed to toxic chemicals or deadly asbestos, or toiling in dangerous garment factories or mines, more than 1.1 million people in Asia die each year from workplace hazards or accidents.

Millions more workers are forced to make a living in the informal economy, where as street vendors, domestic workers and taxi drivers, they earn low wages in often unsafe conditions and have little or access to pensions or other social protections.

Media Contact

Kate Conradt
Communications Director
(+1) 202-974 -8369

 

Bangladesh: Demanding Justice, Workers Mark Nine Years Since Tazreen Fire

November 24 is a symbol of the fight for a decent and safe workplace for more than 4 million garment workers in Bangladesh. On that day nine years ago, Tazreen Fashion factory in Ashulia, on the outskirts of Dhaka, went ablaze taking the lives of 117 workers and...

Sri Lanka Garments: First Collective Agreement in Free Trade Zone

The Free Trade Zones and General Services Employees Union (FTZ & GSEU) has become the first union to successfully bargain a collective agreement with a factory in Sri Lanka’s largest free trade zone. The collective agreement was signed between the union and the...

Overworked and Underpaid, Sri Lanka’s Garment Workers Left Hanging by a Thread

A survey of garment workers in Sri Lanka, conducted in partnership with Solidarity Center and IndustriALL, found employer opposition and harassment has limited their ability to form unions and address workplace rights violations such as increased workloads and work...
Podcast: Thai Fast Food Workers Fight for a Fair Share

Podcast: Thai Fast Food Workers Fight for a Fair Share

The Fight for $15 movement in the United States, in which workers seek a living wage and a union, is part of a global struggle by fast food workers often employed by the same multinational corporations that make massive profits even as their employees struggle to get...

Bangladesh: Unions Work to Secure Tannery Jobs

Bangladesh: Unions Work to Secure Tannery Jobs

Union leaders and labor rights activists are demanding the government of Bangladesh secure jobs for tannery workers before taking punitive action against the industry for its role in environmental pollution. The demand was made at a discussion following the...

Pin It on Pinterest