A JILAF delegation visited the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai from January 21 (Thursday) to 25 (Monday) for the SGRA project (Supporting Grass-Roots Activities through the International Employers’ and Workers’ Network), which JILAF is implementing with grants from the Japanese government (Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare). The third meeting of the Central Promotion Committee and a national workshop were held during this period.
In the third meeting of the Central Promotion Committee, which was held on January 22, reports were heard about the project and activities in fiscal 2015, after which a committee member gave an assessment of the project in the current fiscal year. JILAF Assistant Secretary General Ryo Saito then proposed policies for the coming fiscal year.
The national workshop was held on the following day, January 23. About 60 people attended, including representatives of the Thai government, labour, and management involved in the SGRA project.
At the opening ceremony, Mr. Smet, deputy administrative vice-minister of the Thai Ministry of Labour, expressed his gratitude for the cooperation received from JILAF and the Japanese government and added, “I realize that improving and uplifting the livelihoods of informal-sector workers, who account for more than 60% of the total working population, is an urgent issue for the Thai government as well. I sincerely appreciate the medium- and long-term development of the SGRA project, which is being promoted in unison by the government, labour, management, and the International Labour Organization.”
Speaking on behalf of the organizers, Councilor Koyama of the Japanese Consulate-General in Chiang Mai then explained the purpose of the workshop and other matters. After expressing his appreciation for the efforts of the participants so far, Councilor Oyama called for continued efforts to promote the further development and localization of the project on the premise of grants from the Japanese government in the coming fiscal year. Consul-General Shinya Aoki also addressed the participants, stressing the significance and importance of the grass-roots project and adding, “This project is also contributing to the strengthening of relations between Japan and Thailand. I hope that it spreads beyond the four countries where it is currently being implemented to other countries in Asia too.” Addresses were also given by Mr. Anuchitto, representing the Thai Council of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-TC), and Mr. Siriwan Romchattong, secretary general of the Employers’ Confederation of Thailand (ECOT).
Next, JILAF Assistant Secretary General Saito and Director Teruhiko Sekiguchi of JILAF’s Thailand Office explained the achievements and issues of the project in fiscal 2015, after which representatives of the government, labour, and management in the four districts where the project is being implemented (Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen, and Surat Thani) gave detailed activity reports.
JILAF then proposed draft policies for the coming fiscal year and answered questions from the participants, who made positive suggestions concerning, for example, (1) their hopes for the project’s expansion to other districts; (2) the sharing of information among the four regional working committees and the sale outside the districts of SGRA organic rice (Khon Kaen, Bangkok) and curry paste (Surat Thani); (3) ways of selecting community leaders; and (4) project management that respects culture and customs.
In light of these discussions, the participants then split up into their respective regional groups to discuss and give presentations on the responsibilities and roles of local government, labour, and management in the project in the coming fiscal year and the targets of activities (Chiang Mai: the tourism industry and disabled persons; Khon Kaen: agriculture, drapery and other decoration businesses, disabled persons; Surat Thani: fisheries; Bangkok: agriculture, etc.). After Director Sekiguchi had added JILAF’s understanding of the situation, Mr. Anja, an inspector at the Thai Ministry of Labour, and JILAF Assistant Secretary General Saito ended the workshop with wrap-ups of the proceedings.
This time the workshop was held in the Old Chiangmai Cultural Center, which is owned by the northern branch of ECOT, a constituent member of the Chiang Mai Working Committee, and for lunch the participants were served organic red rice produced by network members in the northeastern district of Khon Kaen after they had completed vocational training (“bridging”) organized by the local government.
|01/22||Fri||3rd Central Promotion Committee meeting|
|01/23||Sat||Thai SGRA Workshop|