• The Financial District


Lawmakers from ASEAN member-states have called for protection of workers from the rampaging COVID-19 virus and guarantee that their right to healthy and safe working conditions respected.

"Every day millions of workers in Southeast Asia are going to work so that our countries keep running, but many are being forced to do so in dangerous conditions that put them at risk of contracting or spreading the virus,” said Chamnan Chanruang, a former Member of Parliament (MP) of Thailand and member of ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR.) “ASEAN governments must work with employers across all sectors to immediately step up action to make sure that everyone’s right to healthy and safe conditions at work is respected: if these workers are not protected, no one is.”

APHR noted that while ASEAN nations shut down some industrial and commercial operations, work continues in many places like the export-oriented industries in the Philippines, food manufacturing and packaging employees in Singapore, construction workers in Indonesia, and those employed in the factories of Special Economic Zones in Vietnam.

"Many workers are in an incredibly difficult scenario; they need to earn money, but are being asked to conduct their work in conditions that lack hygiene supplies and facilities. In the Philippines, for example, workers were made to sleep on the floor at their workplace for 30 days in subhuman conditions that did not respect social distancing. This abuse of workers must stop,” said Chamnan Chanruang.

APHR added that women workers women spend more than three times the amount of time doing unpaid care work compared to men. With the pandemic and the closing of schools, childcare and other facilities, women workers, particularly those who are pregnant, face increased work, mental and physical pressures.

“Another group particularly at risk is healthcare workers. The lack of medical and protective equipment provided to health workers is extremely concerning. APHR notes that in Indonesia medical worker associations have threatened to stop treating COVID-19 patients if the government does not ensure the availability of protective health gear. Women make up more than 70 percent of the global health workforce,” said Anthea Ong, Member of Parliament of Singapore and member of APHR.