A JILAF delegation visited Vientiane from May 25 (Wednesday) to 31 (Tuesday) on the occasion of the start in fiscal 2016 of 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 delegation considered and discussed annual plans and specific activities based on fiscal 2016 project policy.
The SGRA project is entering its second year in Laos. As in the first fiscal year, it is being implemented once again by the Central Promotion Committee, the policymaking body consisting of representatives of the government (Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare), labour (Lao Federation of Trade Unions [LFTU]), and management (Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry [LNCCI]), as well as the International Labour Organization (ILO), and three Regional Working Committees in Vientiane, Savannakhet, and Champasak (from the current fiscal year), which promote activities in their respective districts.
At the first meeting in fiscal 2016 of the Central Promotion Committee, which took place on May 26, the participants discussed fiscal 2016 project policy and strategy and specific action plan proposals. After statements by the committee members and others, the participants confirmed all of the agenda items, including expansion of the project to the southernmost province of Champasak and holding of the fiscal 2016 Four-Country Meeting of Government, Labour, and Management Representatives in Vientiane (scheduled to take place on February 23–24, 2017). They thereby prepared the groundwork for the 1st Enlarged Working Committee Meeting to be held on the following day.
At the first meeting in fiscal 2016 of the Enlarged Working Committee, which included members of the Vientiane, Savannakhet, and Champasak Regional Working Committees, the participants looked back on the achievements and issues of the project in fiscal 2015 and confirmed specific activities toward development of the project in fiscal 2016.
In the current fiscal year a total of 90 informal-sector workers in Laos will be newly organized as network members---30 traditional hand-sewing workers in the capital of Vientiane, 30 organic vegetable growers in the southern province of Savannakhet, and 30 coffee farmers in the southernmost province of Champasak. Activities will include the holding, in conjunction with the ILO, of Life Support Seminars for informal-sector workers in these districts to supply information contributing to the improvement and uplifting of their livelihoods; the bridging of new network members to skill-development training programs run by the Lao government and LNCCI; and the establishment of an SGRA mutual-aid system.
On May 29–30 the JILAF delegation also held discussions with the LFTU, the LNCCI, the Lao Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, and the ILO concerning activities in June and thereafter.