JILAF is implementing the SGRA project (Supporting Grass-Roots Activities through the International Employers’ and Workers’ Network) under consignment from the Japanese government (Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare), and from this fiscal year Laos has been newly included as a target country. As a part of activities in Laos, the first meeting of the regional Savannakhet Working Committee (SWC) in the southern province of Savannakhet was held from June 23 (Tuesday) to 25 (Thursday).
The meeting, which took place at the Savannakhet office of the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LNCCI), was attended by local representatives of government, labour, and management, who discussed specific activities to be conducted in Savannakhet from now on.
At the start of the meeting, Mr. Ounkham Bounyaseing, Director General of Labour Protection Department, Lao Federation of Trade Unions (LFTU), expressed his gratitude for the cooperation of JILAF and the Japanese government and went on, “I hear that the issue of informal-sector workers was also discussed at the recent assembly of the International Labour Organization. The LFTU also places priority on improving and raising the living standards of informal-sector workers, and we look forward to developing this project through solid collaboration with JILAF.”
Mr. Somphansay Kettavong, head of the LFTU’s Savannakhet branch, welcomed the start of the SGRA project in Savannakhet and added, “I would like to see government, labour, and management work together for the sake of informal-sector workers.”
Mr. Teruhiko Sekiguchi, director of JILAF’s office in Thailand, then explained the main purpose of the meeting and the duties and roles of government, labour, management, and the ILO. He also shared the fiscal 2015 policy (targeting sugarcane production contract workers) and activity plan confirmed at the first meeting of the central Promotion Committee held in the capital of Vientiane on May 20, 2015. Attending representatives of the provincial government, labour, and management made comments concerning, for example, (1) the importance of selecting network members so that results can be steadily realized; (2) efforts in which the parties involved are aware of the duties and roles of government, labour, and management; and (3) the holding of a Life Support Seminar based on a tool kit produced jointly with the ILO and smooth execution of the annual activity plan. In addition, there was a specific proposal from the Savannakhet branch of the LNCCI, an organization of employers, which said that “The desire to purchase organically grown agricultural products is increasing, especially among hotels in the area. Accordingly, if network members were to cultivate organic agricultural products in the future, we could make efforts to introduce sales routes.”
Furthermore, as a means of grasping the conditions of sugarcane production contract workers, who are the project’s target in Savannakhet, on the same day as the meeting the JILAF delegation, together with staff members of the LFTU Savannakhet branch, observed a sugarcane plantation in the area. The staff members made such comments as “Although it is an extremely wide area of land, there are quite a few producers who insist on manual work. We must aim to improve the livelihoods of the workers through the project.”
|06/24||Wed||1st SWC Meeting|
Observation of sugarcane plantation