A virtual signing ceremony on 24 August 2022 marked the launch of a landmark collaboration between the UNI Asia & Pacific Regional Organization (UNI Apro) and the Korea Financial Industry Foundation (KFIF).
During the event, which took place over Zoom, KFIF, UNI Apro, and two UNI-affiliated financial unions in the Philippines and Nepal—the National Union of Bank Employees-Insurance Financial Organization (NUBE-IFO) from the Philippines and the Financial Institute Employees Union of Nepal (FIEUN)—signed a memorandum of understanding outlining the projects.
Through this agreement, the KFIF will coordinate with UNI Apro to support the NUBE-IFO and FIEUN to establish vocational training centres in the Payatas region of the Philippines and the building and operating of gender-separated public toilets in the Lumbini area of Nepal, respectively.
The Korea Financial Industry Foundation was represented by Mr. Kim Chang Hee, General Secretary, Mr. Park Hong-Bae, Board Director of KFIF and President of KFIU, and Ms. Lee Jiyoon, Project Manager. UNI Apro was represented by Mr. Jayasri Priyalal, UNI Apro Finance Sector Activities Director. The NUBE-IFO and FIEUN were represented by their Presidents, Mr. Rainer Cruz and Mr. Padam Raj Regmi, respectively.
The KFIF is a unique bipartite entity borne from a historic industrial agreement in 2012 between UNI affiliate, the Korea Finance Industry Union (KFIU), and the Korea Bank Employers Association. The agreement established a charitable foundation in which financial sector workers and institutions contribute to a sustainable society. The foundation was officially launched in 2018 after raising an impressive KWR 200 billion (approx. US$148 million) in funds through the collective strength of 100,000 workers across 33 financial institutions. It has since gradually expanded from its initial domestic focus to extending international solidarity assistance.
Kim Chang-Hee, General Secretary of Korea Financial Industry Foundation (KFIF)
“Since August 2021, the foundation has been exploring international solidarity projects in pursuit of ISO 26000 Social Responsibility and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) with financial industry trade unions from countries in Asia under the umbrella of the UNI Global Union. In consultation with UNI Apro, we decided to proceed with two projects which focus on overcoming poverty, discrimination and inequality. Although the risks of conducting projects due to the prolongation of the Covid-19 pandemic and extreme price fluctuations remain, we expect that project results will be achieved with the guidance and cooperation of UNI Apro and dedicated solidarity from colleagues of FIEUN of Nepal and the NUBE-IFO of the Philippines.”
Park Hong-Bae, President of Korea Finance Industry Union (KFIU) and Board Director of KFIF
“Our foundation is working to diversify its global social contribution projects based on the goals of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Our goal is to address discrimination and inequality and create a safer, healthier and more sustainable society. In the 1950s, after the Korean War, the Republic of Korea grew from one of the poorest countries in the world to a prominent OECD country with the help of several Asian neighbours. In the process of its growth, we are overcoming poverty, discrimination, and inequality through numerous struggles. Our Foundation has determined that each country’s financial industry’s trade unions should play a leading role in sharing the valuable assets accumulated by the labour and civil society of the Republic of Korea with the counter-partners in the Asian region.”
Rainer Cruz, President NUBE-IFO Philippines
“When we started the Payatas Outreach Program 17 years ago, our vision was to help improve the image of trade unions by helping to eliminate child labour and poverty. We chose the Payatas because it symbolises urban neglect in the Philippines. People live daily with the sight and smell of garbage, and they are left with only two options; to scavenge or starve to death. The most appalling sight is children scavenging for food and recyclables. We have conducted outreach programs such as feeding and rehabilitation for severely malnourished children, school-based feeding and scholarship programs. This livelihood and training program supported by the foundation will complete the cycle we have envisioned for the community. This will equip and provide the people, especially the women in Payatas, with an alternative source of livelihood that is more decent and humane.”
Padam Raj Regmi, President of FIEUN Nepal
“We are thankful for being a major component of this International Solidarity Project: Gender Separated Public Toilet Construction Project in Lumbini. FIEUN believes that the successful completion of this social work would give a positive message to the people. Such works of trade unions would help in building up the trade unions’ image in society. This is a pilot activity for us, and we hope to set an example in Nepal’s banking sector in the coming years. We have planned to implement this project in Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha. We hope that this project is a symbol of unity and joint work between the trade unions of Nepal and South Korea.”
Jayasri Priyalal, UNI Apro Finance Sector Activities Director
“This is the first community development program the UNI Apro Finance is commissioning with our partners in South Korea. UNI Apro Finance will commit and extend our utmost cooperation and support with our regional affiliates, as it aligns with our partnership-oriented industrial relations philosophy. The KFIF’s efforts – to step out of Korea, contribute to the SDGs and give a generous helping hand to those developing economies in Asia, such as Nepal and the Philippines, are praiseworthy. It is a commendable Corporate Social Responsibility project with firm commitments from Civil Society – trade unions – and the citizens in the respective countries. We can be proud that it is a CSR, with two added C’s, citizens and civil society, a joint effort to realise UN SDGs by 2030.”