International Tripartite Meeting of the SGRA Project Held in Bangkok

JILAF held the International Tripartite Meeting (ITM) of the SGRA project (Supporting Grass-Roots Activities through the International Employers’ and Workers’ Network) in Bangkok, Thailand, on February 17–18. The meeting was attended by a total of 58 people, including central government, labour, and management representatives from the four countries where the SGRA project is being implemented (Thailand, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Laos), the two countries where pilot projects are being implemented (Vietnam and Sri Lanka), and Cambodia, where an outreach project is being conducted, as well as the director of the International Labour and Cooperation Office in the International Affairs Division of the Minister’s Secretariat at the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare and a special observer from the host country. In the meeting, the participants exchanged information and discussed such topics as (1) results, achievements, and issues of the project in the current fiscal year, (2) their image of future activity policy in each country, and (3) the present state and issues of informal-sector workers in Cambodia.

At the opening ceremony, addresses were heard from Mr. Viwat Jiraphanvanich, deputy permanent secretary of the Thai Ministry of Labour, Mr. Savit Kaewvarn of the Thai Council of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-TC), President Ekasit Kunanantakul of the Employers’ Confederation of Thailand (ECOT), and Ms. Joni Simpson, senior specialist at the ILO’s Asia-Pacific Office (in charge of gender, equality, and nondiscrimination), who welcomed the participating national delegations to Thailand, stressed the importance of the SGRA project in Thailand, and expressed their gratitude for the continued support and cooperation from JILAF and the Japanese government. From Japan, Mr. Hiroshi Kawamura, Minister and Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Japan in Thailand, and Mr. Kazuhiko Sawada, Director, Research Department, Zenrosai Kyokai (National Association for Workers’ Welfare and Cooperative Insurance), delivered addresses, after which there was also an address on behalf of the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare from Director Masamichi Watanabe of the International Labour and Cooperation Office, International Affairs Division, Minister’s Secretariat. Speaking on behalf of the organizers, JILAF President Hiroyuki Nagumo spoke about the purpose of the meeting.

In the country sessions, the delegations from Thailand, Nepal, Bangladesh, Laos, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka gave reports on results and achievements of the project in fiscal 2018 in line with the four themes of (1) the organization of informal-sector workers, (2) vocational skill development training for SGRA network members, (3) SGRA cooperatives, and (4) SGRA diffusion (outreach and pilot projects). They then shared information on the next activity plans (drafts) for each country. Questions and comments in the sessions related to such matters as (1) the follow-up of existing network members, (2) points to note in establishing an SGRA cooperative, and (3) issues faced in the involvement of employers’ organizations and governments. Each national delegation gave pertinent replies.

The meeting also featured a special lecture from Japan’s Zenrosai Kyokai on the strengthening and development of SGRA cooperatives, which enabled the participants to learn about the importance of mutual aid and the need to foster trust for the sustained management of such cooperatives.
The Cambodian delegation then shared information on the state of the informal economy and workers employed in that economy in Cambodia.

At the closing ceremony, the representative from Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare expressed appreciation for the steady achievements of the project and accumulation of know-how in each country and also commented on the importance of effectively gauging the results of the project and of independent and self-supporting project management. Speaking on behalf of the organizers, JILAF President Nagumo closed the meeting by explaining the results and achievements of the SGRA project and the significance of the ITM meeting.

After the meeting, the participants visited the Khlong Toei slum to hear from SGRA network members (stevedores and other workers) about living conditions there.

Schedule

DateContents
02/17SunITM day one
02/18MonITM day two
Visit to Khlong Toei slum

Photos of the Participants

Guests at the International Tripartite Meeting

Opening address by a deputy permanent secretary of the Thai Ministry of Labour

Scene of the venue

Report by the Thai delegation

Report by the Nepalese delegationReport

by the Bangladeshi delegation

Report by the Lao delegation

Report by the Vietnamese delegation

Report by the Sri Lankan delegation

Report by the Cambodian delegation

Special lecture by Zenrosai Kyokai

Visit to the Khlong Toei slum