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Joint Statement on Labour and Employment of the ASEAN Labour Ministers Meeting


Joint Statement of the ASEAN Labour Ministers on response to the impact of coronavisus disease 2019 (COVID-19) on labour and employment.

WE, the Labour Ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Member States, namely Brunei Darussalam, the Kingdom of Cambodia,the Republic of Indonesia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, the Republic of the Philippines, the Republic of Singapore,the Kingdom of Thailand, and the Socialist Republic of VietNam, convened the Special Meeting of ASEAN Labour Ministers on Response to the Impact of Coronavirus Disease2019 (COVID-19) on Labour and Employmentthrough a video conference on 14 May 2020; 

RECOGNISING thewidespread and profound impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the healthwell-being and livelihood of peoples and economies of ASEAN Member States and other countries around the world; 
EXPRESSING our deepestsympathiestothe bereaved of those who lost their lives due to thepandemic and to theindividuals and sectors in our societies affected by COVID-19, includingworkers who lost their jobs and income;
EXPRESSING our gratitude to medicalprofessionals,healthcare workers, researchers, scientistsand otherfrontline personnelfor their invaluable efforts in responsetoCOVID-19; 
ADHERINGto the determination and commitment of ASEAN Member States, in the spirit of a Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN, to remain united and to act jointly and decisively to control the spread of the disease while mitigating its adverse impact, safeguarding the people’s well-being and maintaining socio-economic stability, as stipulated in the Declaration of the Special ASEAN Summit on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) held on 14 April 2020 through video conference; 
ACKNOWLEDGING the ASEAN Coordinating Council (ACC) Chairman’s Press Statement on COVID-19 issued on 20 February 2020 which highlighted ASEAN’s commitment to maintaining open economic and integration policies and fostering regional resilience, while being prepared to explore cooperation with ASEAN’s external partners and international community to enhance readiness and response measures to mitigate and eliminate the impact of COVID-19; 
FURTHER ACKNOWLEDGING theStatement of the 26th ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Retreat (AEM Retreat) held on  8-10 March 2020 on Strengthening ASEAN’s Economic Resilience in Response to the Outbreak of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) which reaffirmed thecommitment of keeping the ASEAN market open for trade and investment, working closely with industries to instill confidence in Southeast Asia as a trade and investment hub and tourism destination, and strengthening a long-term supply chain resilience and sustainability; 
FURTHER ACKNOWLEDGING the Joint Statement of Special Video Conference of the ASEAN Health Ministers in Enhancing Cooperation on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Response held on 7 April 2020 which reaffirmedagreement to enhance the exchange and sharing of timely data and information onCOVID-19 on the prevention, detection, control and response measures, among others; 
NOTING thejoint responses of other ASEAN sectoral ministerial bodies toCOVID-19,including the health, economic, defense, foreignaffairs,tourism,and agriculture sectors; 
BEING MINDFULoftheurgencytoaddresstheimpactofCOVID-19on labour and employment in timely and effective manner,while acknowledging the on-going efforts of individual ASEAN Member States to assist workers and employersaffected by COVID-19; 
AGREED that with regional solidarity,we will continue tostrengthen cooperation in this challenging time and take the following actions: 

Provide support for the livelihood and health of all workers, especiallythoseworking in high-risk sectors,andsafeguardtheir labour rights amidst the impact of COVID-19 to the economies and industries of ASEAN Member States; 

Endeavour to provide that all workers, including migrant workers, laid off or furloughed by employers affected by the pandemic are compensated appropriately by the employers and eligible toreceive social assistance or unemployment benefits from the government where appropriate, in accordance with the laws, regulations and policies of respective ASEAN Member States; 

Facilitate access of all workers infected by COVID-19to essentialhealth care services and other relevant medical support as necessaryand prevent discrimination against infected workers; 

Provideappropriateassistance andsupport toASEAN migrant workers affectedbythepandemicineachother’s country or in third countries, including effective implementation of the ASEAN Consensus on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers, working towards their health, well-being and safety as well as facilitating their movement and reuniting them with their families; 

Further strengthen the effectiveness ofactive labour market policiesat national and regional levels,occupational safety and health standards, and socialprotection systems through productive and harmonious social dialogue to retain employment, reducethevulnerabilitiesofat-riskworkers, and improvetheirresilience; 

Utilise digital technology as communication and consultation mediaamidst temporary restrictions of movement in many countries so as to further regional cooperation and national responses to the impact of the pandemic on labour and employment; 

Enhance effective and transparent publiccommunications through officialforms of media fortimely updatesof government labour and employment policies and measures in response to the pandemic and counter misinformation; 

Enhancecooperationwith tripartite partners, civil society, international organisations, ASEAN Dialogue Partners and other stakeholders in mutually agreed areas such as knowledge sharing, research and developmenttechnical assistance and resource mobilisation to support rapid responses and post-pandemic recovery plan; and 

Continue sharing of best practices and lessons learnt among ASEAN Member States on measures to help at-risk workers and employers and promote their resilience. 

WE tasked the ASEAN Senior Labour Officials to undertake joint efforts to promote preparedness of labour and employment policies for the adverse impact of potential pandemic, economic crisis or natural disasters in the future. The joint collaboration shall be planned in the ASEAN Labour Ministers’ Work Programme 2021-2025 for submission to the 26thASEAN Labour Ministers Meeting./.