New project supporting informal sector workers and their families
The JILAF is currently implementing the "Supporting Grass-roots Activities through the International Employers' and Workers' Network" (SGRA) project, as a project launched by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW), in Thailand, Nepal and Bangladesh (only a field survey in 2011).
This project provides assistance for people and their families who are in socially unstable and vulnerable positions in developing countries, such as informal sector workers, low-wage earners, women, the disable and etc., by utilising the international employers' and workers' networks. The JILAF has set up its local SGRA offices based in Thailand and Nepal for this project.
In addition, a nationwide survey was conducted in Bangladesh to understand the actual living conditions and the assistance needs of informal sector workers and their families.
International symposium to share information on the project in each country
'SGRA/International Symposium' was held in Bangkok, Thailand on 27th-28th February for the purpose of disseminating experience of the SGRA projects implemented in Thailand, Nepal and Bangladesh to other Asian countries. Around 120 people, including representatives from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan, the Asia-Pacific regional organisation of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-AP), the Confederation of Asia-Pacific Employers (CAPE), and the International Labour Organization (ILO), participated in the symposium.
Mr. Padermchai Sasomsap, Minister of Labour of Thailand, joined the symposium. He emphasised in his address, "For the economic development of developing countries, it is important to raise the living standards of informal sector workers. I look forward to the continuous progress of the SGRA project."
The symposium included 1) a lecture from the Asia-Pacific regional office of the ILO on "Decent Work and Informal Sector Workers in Asia"; 2) a session on the outline of the JILAF SGRA project, 3) activity reports by the JILAF and government, labour, and management representatives in the three countries where the SGRA project is being implemented and 4) reports on activities to assist informal sector workers by labour and management representatives from India and Indonesia. The participants confirmed the conditions of informal sector workers in the countries concerned and the report of the SGRA project activities.
Subsequently, there was a panel discussion facilitated by the JILAF on the theme of "Effective Support for Informal Sector Workers." The panellists were Mr. Yoshihiro Senoo, General Counsellor of the MHLW and representatives from the ITUC-AP, the CAPE, and the ILO. In the discussion, each panellist emphasised the importance of labour-management cooperation for informal sector workers and their commitment to promote social protections.
Mr. Senoo stated, "The SGRA project is to create voluntary networks to improve their living conditions of informal sector workers. It is expected that, with the implementation in labour-management cooperation, this project will provide support for them effectively."
Discussion on the project development among tripartite parties
Government, labour and management representatives from Thailand, Nepal and Bangladesh where this project is implemented, together with representatives from labour-management representatives from other Asian countries, international organisations, and experts shared information on current situations and challenges of informal sector workers, and discussed possible cooperation among tripartite parties for assistance in this symposium.
The JILAF will continuously develop this project, based on the pilot project and the field survey, organise informal sector workers and their families who are not able to enjoy public supports, and provide necessary information for improvement of their lives and vocational trainings through the project to better their lives.