JILAF visited Bangkok on January 23–29 for the SGRA (Supporting Grass-Roots Activities through the International Employers’ and Workers’ Network) project, attending the 3rd Promotion Committee and a national workshop.
At the 3rd Promotion Committee, which was held on January 25, the participants heard a report on the project and activities in fiscal 2013, after which the participants gave an assessment of the project in the current fiscal year. JILAF Field Project Director Ryo Saito then proposed a draft activity policy for fiscal 2014, which was unanimously confirmed.
The national workshop, which was held on the following day, January 26, was attended by 70 people, including Thai government, labour, and management representatives involved in the project. The purpose of the national workshop was to look back on the project in fiscal 2013 and confirm and decide an activity policy for fiscal 2014. National workshops have also been held in the other countries implementing the SGRA project (in Bangladesh on January 23 and in Nepal on February 2). A meeting of government, labour, and management representatives of these three countries is scheduled to be held in Kathmandu, Nepal, on March 1 to share information concerning the achievements and problems of the project in the three countries and to consider the further development of the project and its future extension to other countries.
In an opening address, speaking on behalf of Thai Labour Minister Chalerm Yubamrung, who was unable to attend because of the emergency situation in Bangkok, Mr. Komin, advisor to the Thai minister of labour, expressed gratitude to the Japanese government and JILAF. After JILAF Executive Director Hisashige Danno had explained the main purposes of the workshop and other matters, Minister Kiminori Iwama of the Japanese Embassy in Thailand, representing the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Assistant Director Mr. Ariga of the International Affairs Division, Minister’s Secretariat, Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare, representing the MHLW, stressed the significance of the workshop, which was being held amid much political unrest, and the importance of the SGRA project, as well as the expectations of their respective ministries.
Next, Mr. Supachai, formerly director of the Informal Workers’ Center in the Thai Ministry of Labour’s Department of Labour Protection and Welfare, introduced the activities of the State Informal Workers’ Management Commission, which is headed by the prime minister of Thailand, and promised further cooperation with the SGRA project. In light of the achievements and issues of the SGRA project in fiscal 2013 announced by Director Teruhiko Sekiguchi of JILAF’s Thailand Office, JILAF Field Project Director Saito then proposed the draft fiscal 2014 SGRA activity plan, which was unanimously approved following plenary discussions.
Finally, Mr. Panich, Director-General of the Department of Labour Protection and Welfare, representing the Thai government, explained the current political situation in Thailand and efforts to protect informal-sector workers and pledged further cooperation with the SGRA project. The workshop ended with JILAF Executive Director Danno summarizing the proceedings and once again encouraging the participants.