Industrial Relations and Labour Policy Seminar in Thailand (June)

Government, labour, and management guests at the seminar

JILAF held an industrial relations and labour policy seminar in the suburbs of Bangkok on June 21–22 together with the Thai Council of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-TC) and with some participants from the Confederation of Industrial Labour of Thailand (CILT). (The ITUC-TC consists of the State Enterprise Workers Relations Confederation [SERC], the Labour Congress of Thailand [LCT], the Thai Trade Union Congress [TTUC], and the National Congress of Private Industrial Employees [NCPE]. The CILT consists of the Thai Confederation of Electronic, Electrical Appliances, Auto and Metal Workers [TEAM], the Automobile Labour Congress of Thailand [ALCT], the ICEM Thai Council, and the Textile and Garment Workers Federation of Thailand [TWFT].)
The main theme of the seminar, which attracted 111 participants, was “Economic and Social Development and the Social Role of the Labour Movement.” The participants, who included union leaders from each organization and representatives from the Thai government (Ministry of Labour) and an employers’ organization, broadly discussed such issues as social and economic conditions in Thailand ahead of formation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) and the role of trade unions in the wake of globalization.
In a lecture titled “Economic and Social Development and the Social Role of the Labour Movement,” a JILAF representative proposed issues from a variety of perspectives, including (1) changes in Asia brought about by globalization and the position of Thailand (a central country in a huge potential economic bloc embracing India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, as well as the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations); (2) the response to globalization identifying the essence of surrounding environmental changes and the direction that should be followed in the future; (3) the loss of uniformity and expansion of disparities in an environment mixing premodern, modern, and contemporary societies and the role of trade unions; (4) the responsibilities of the labour movement and leaders to achieve economic and social development and improve national life; and (5) the upgrading of labour and fair distribution of corporate (growth) results.
There was then a trilateral panel discussion on “Economic and Social Development and the Social Role of the Labour Movement in Thailand.” The government representative spoke about the current efforts of the National Council for Peace and Order and the government’s expectations of the Thai labour movement, while the other panelists expressed agreement with Japan’s labour-management practices and constructive industrial relations. The panelists also gave their replies to comments and requests made by audience participants on such issues as Thailand’s informal economy and informal-sector workers, diversifying work patterns and unstable employment, the mandatory retirement system and pensions, increasingly unstable shop-floor industrial relations, the difficulty of rallying and integrating the 14 national centers, and illegal workers from across the border.
On the second day of the seminar, Professor Sakdina of Thammasat University delivered a lecture from an academic standpoint titled “Globalization and the AEC: The Role of the Labour Movement,” in which he analyzed the current political situation and spoke about such pending issues as the liberalization of agricultural trade in the AEC and gradual liberalization in nine priority areas. In order for unions to confront the global economy, Professor Sakdina emphasized the importance of integrating the Thai labour movement under a single national center, promoting the formation and expansion of unions, strengthening organizational capabilities through human resource development, establishing union mutual-aid schemes, strengthening the negotiating skills of company-based unions, and promoting the principle of labour-management equality and autonomy. He also explained the need to shift from a struggle-oriented movement to a dialogue-oriented movement.
Finally, in light of the lectures and panel discussion, the participants compiled and presented action plans toward the building of constructive industrial relations in Thailand and formation of a strategy to unite the trade union movement. The action plans presented by participants included a specific annual plan for the formation of a single national center and such issues as the setting of union dues and the responsibilities and roles of industrial federations and company-based unions.

Schedule

DateContents
06/21SatIndustrial Relations and Labour Policy Seminar Day 1
06/22SunIndustrial Relations and Labour Policy Seminar Day 2

Photos of Participants

Lecture by JILAF

Scene of panel discussion

A member of the audience asks a question

Lecture by a professor of Thammasat University

Participants compile action plans

A participant presents an action plan