SGRA Project in Thailand (November)

A JILAF delegation visited the Thai capital of Bangkok from Thursday, November 10 to Sunday, November 13 to attend various meetings and seminars relating to 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).
During the visit, the second meeting in the current fiscal year of the Central Promotion Committee (consisting of representatives of the Thai government, labour, and management and JILAF) was held to reflect on activities until now and confirm an interim assessment of the project, future activities, and other issues.
As recent achievement of the project in Thailand, the participants confirmed (1) the organization of about 100 new informal-sector workers facing difficult circumstances in central Bangkok, northern Chiang Mai, northeastern Khon Kaen, and southern Surat Thani; (2) the bridging of network members to vocational training programs run by the government and others in the four regions where the project is being implemented (organic farming methods, organic herb cultivation, pepper paste making, rubber tree fertilizer refining, business startup support for home workers led by the International Labour Organization, and training in private companies); and (3) income improvement for network members through work, jobs, and productivity improvement and the expansion of SGRA cooperative societies. They also engaged in policy discussions with a view to achieving the complete independence of the project and sustained development in the future.
In addition, from the perspective of further promoting independence and autonomy through SGRA cooperatives, an Expanded Working Committee meeting was held with the attendance of 46 members of the Central, Northern, Northeastern, and Southern Regional Working Committees and others and speakers from Japan’s Zenrosai Kyokai (National Association for Workers’ Welfare and Cooperative Insurance), who spoke about the history and promotion of workers’ mutual aid in Japan and methods of operation.
Furthermore, the second joint seminar of the Regional Working Committees was held with the aims of strengthening and developing the project locally and further promoting independence and autonomy through the SGRA cooperatives. Convened with the objective of acquiring know-how relating to the establishment and registration of cooperatives (credit unions) toward improving the independence and livelihood of informal-sector workers, the seminar welcomed Mr. Kazuhiko Sawada and Mr. Naohiro Tsukamoto, deputy head and head, respectively, of Zenrosai Kyokai’s survey and research section, to speak about the history and promotion of workers’ mutual aid in Japan toward (1) the further development and strengthening of the mutual-aid functions of SGRA cooperatives (credit unions) in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Khon Kaen and (2) the establishment of a cooperative in Surat Thani. In response, the participants asked lively questions about such topics in Japan as (1) the difference between workers’ mutual aid and insurance; (2) the supervisory government ministry and relevant legislation; (3) premiums and security relating to celebratory and condolence mutual aid, etc.; (4) methods of setting and collecting premiums; (5) the roles of and collaboration between labour banks and Zenrosai cooperatives; (6) liability reserves, total assets, and subscription balance; and (7) the mechanism for returning surplus funds to cooperative members. The speakers from Zenrosai Kyokai gave pertinent replies.

Schedule

DateContents
11/11Fri2nd Central Promotion Committee meeting
11/12Sat2nd Expanded Working Committee seminar

Photos of Participants

2nd Central Promotion Committee meeting

A moment’s silence is observed before the Expanded Working Committee meeting as a mark of respect to the late King Bhumibol.

EWC meeting

Lecture on mutual aid 1

Lecture on mutual aid 2

Question from the Thai Ministry of Labour