Industrial Relations and Labour Policy Seminar in Laos

JILAF, together with the Lao Federation of Trade Unions (LFTU), jointly held a two-day industrial relations and labour policy seminar in the Lao capital of Vientiane on June 30 and July 1. This seminar was organized under consignment from the Japanese government (Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare). About 70 people attended, including LFTU officials and representatives from the Lao Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare and the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LNCCI).
At the beginning, speaking on behalf of the co-organizers, LFTU President Khamla Lolonesy expressed his profound gratitude for the cooperation of JILAF and the Japanese government and said, “This year is a commemorative one, because it marks the sixtieth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Laos and Japan. Since the inauguration of the ASEAN Economic Community is also just around the corner, this seminar is extremely significant and plays a major role.”
In response, JILAF Executive Director Hisashige Danno said, “As a result of the advance of globalization, many foreign companies have become a so-called power source of ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations]. Laos, which has abundant hydropower and other resources, is attracting attention and achieving rapid economic development. On the other side of the coin, though, expanding inequalities are a concern. This seminar will be a good opportunity to think again about the role of trade unions.”
In the opening ceremony, Mr. Hideyuki Onishi, a counselor at the Japanese Embassy in Laos, Mr. Phongsavanh Xaykosy, Deputy Director, Department of Labour Management in the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, and Mr. Sengdavone, secretary general of the LNCCI, expressed their expectations of the seminar.
Next, Mr. Ounkham Boungnaseng, Director General of Labour Protection Department of LFTU, gave an overview of “The Role of Trade Unions in an Age of Globalization,” quoting from the LFTU’s activity policy. Noting that industrial relations had become complex as a result of rapid economic development, he went on to emphasize that trade unions should respond to issues while respecting culture and obeying the law.
In response, JILAF Executive Director Danno delivered a lecture titled “Socioeconomic Development and the Social Role of the Labour Movement,” in which he spoke about the changes surrounding workers brought about by globalization, the present state of the Lao economy, and future prospects for Laos (further economic growth through development of an economic corridor and the industrialization of agriculture). On top of that, he also explained that in order to respond to industrial relations, which are becoming increasingly complex together with economic development, the transformation of industrial relations in Japan and its experience (striking a balance between cooperation through labour-management consultations and confrontation through collective bargaining) would be a useful reference.
After that, Mr. Teruhiko Sekiguchi, director of JILAF’s office in Thailand, gave a lecture titled “The Role of Trade Unions toward Inauguration of the AEC,” in which he presented an outline of the ASEAN Economic Community and noted the negative impact on workers, including (1) the increase of informal-sector workers, (2) the increasing trend toward neglect of industrial relations and labour-management dialogue as a result of the bid to attract foreign capital, and (3) the widening of disparities in income and opportunities.
On the second day the participants divided into three groups and held group discussions and presentations on the theme of “An action plan to protect workers by means of constructive industrial relations in an age of globalization.” Proposals from the groups included (1) the promotion of government-labour-management collaboration through the establishment of tripartite consultations among senior officials of government, labour, and management toward the improvement of working conditions (at the present stage, working-level consultations are held every quarter); (2) the promotion of organization and environmental improvement in foreign companies; (3) lobbying of the government toward the protection of all workers, including informal-sector workers; and (4) the development of lobbying activities toward raising of the minimum wage. After mutual discussions, Mr. Ounkham Boungnaseng from LFTU, and JILAF Executive Director Danno wrapped up the two-day seminar.

Schedule

DateContents
06/30TueSeminar day 1
07/01WedSeminar day 2

Photos of Participants

Address by LFTU President Khamla

Lecture by JILAF Executive Director Danno

Lecture by Mr. Ounkham Boungnaseng, LFTU

Group discussions

Announcement of action plan

Scene of venue