Task Force on ASEAN Migrant Workers
Lao Federation of Trade Unions - Labour Protection
Capacity Building Workshop on the Implementation of the ASEAN
Declaration on Protection and Promotion the Rights of Migrant Workers Xayabuly Province,
5-6 August 2011
The Lao is a landlocked country of less than six million and shares border with China, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar and Thailand. In 2005, Laos a “Least Developed Country” (LDC) had gross
national per capita income of US$491. In 2004, 71 percent of Laos population lived on less than
US$2 a day, and 23 percent on less than US$1 a day. Around 85 % of the population lived in 11,000
rural villages in 142 districts in 16 provinces. In 2005, about 27 percent of the population lived in
urban areas, with one major city Vientiane.
Migration has been occurring for a long time, particularly
in developing countries and the least developed countries, including Lao PDR. The
Lao PDR shares a 1,800 km long border with Thailand. The Lao people are
crossing borders into Thailand
for long term and short term work. Some stay in Thailand
for more than three months while others simply go across the border during the
day and come return to Laos
the same evening.
Today with globalization, increasing use of information
technology and the increasing numbers of groups and agents are seeking to
exploit the migrant workers from remote areas of Laos
to cross-border into Thailand
for labour. Both the Lao people living in the south along borders with Thailand as well as the people who are living in
the north of Laos, are
traveling to Thailand
to find jobs.
According to LFTU’s survey on the migration situation in 3
villages in 3 districts of Savannakhet province in May 2009 reveals that there
were 7,650 people (3,961 or 52% women) who migrated internally and abroad. Of
this number, 1,097 (735 or 67% women) migrated to Thailand. This is just the figure
for 3 villages. Many of these migrants are vulnerable to abuses in the
migration process, they migrate largely through irregular channels, have
limited safe migration and rights awareness, etc.
Many young migrant workers and young women are easily
influenced by the members of their families, their friends, relatives,
including recruitment agents to take the irregular route.
The roles and responsibilities of the Lao Federation of Trade Union
(LFTU) is to protect the rights of Lao workers who are working inside and outside
the country. However, in practice, fulfilling this role has become a challenge.
There has been limited guidance and support to develop action plan on labour
migration and migrant workers. In addition, an emerging trend that LFTU
needs consideration is the inbound migration to Lao PDR from neighbouring
Xayabuly province is located in the northern part of Laos, shares border with Thailand, it is composed of 13
districts. In the past, people mostly work in sawmill factories. There
were many foreign investors to operate businesses related to wood processing; saw mill factories and furniture factories. Recently, the Lao government do not
allow cutting of trees and reduce the number of sawmill factories and
placed limitation on logging quotations. Therefore, the workers who lost their jobs in sawmills are looking for new
jobs in Thailand and some cross borders as undocumented workers.
In 2010, the workshop on protecting migrant workers organized in Khammoun province on 28 – 29 July 2010. This year 2011, the Workshop is organize in
Kanthao District, Xayabuly with local trade union leaders from 13 districts of
Xayabury. The workshop is organized by LFTU and TF-AMW to build the capacity of the stakeholders.
create awareness of the ASEAN Declaration on the protection and promotion
of the rights of migrant workers to local trade unionists in relation to
safe migration and un-document migrant workers.
share information with trade union leaders about the Task Force on Migrant
Workers project objectives, approaches and activities.
increase awareness of local trade unionist, workers, and young people in
Xayabuly province on the national labor law, trade union, and regulations
on safe migration.
develop LFTU’s action plan to provide protection to migrant workers
through information dissemination on labour realities and rights; dispute
settlement, legal assistance; and
organizing migrant workers
Xayabuly Province Workshop
The TF-AMW organized the workshop together with the local
partner the Lao Federation of Trade Union (LFTU) from August 5-6, in Xayabuly Provinces. The
Workshop was earlier planned to be held in March 2011 but it was postponed till
The workshop promoted awareness on ASEAN as well as the ASEAN
Declaration on Protection and Promotion the Rights of Migrant Workers. The workshop panel was co-chaired by Mr.
Bounthavy Phouthavong, Vice-President of Xayabuly province trade union; Mr. Samanxay Khanthanuxay, Head of Labour
Protection Department, LFTU and Mr. Sinapan Samydorai, TFAMW.
There were 29 participants including
participants from the LFTU center,
Labour department, Foreign department, Immigration department, youth union,
eleven districts trade union and provincial trade union of Xayabuly.
The Panel and discussion stated with brief presentations on
Declaration on the Protection and Promotion the Rights of Migrant Workers
between Lao-Thai on sending and receiving Lao workers to work in Thailand
of the Lao Federation of Trade Union and Immigration regulation of Lao
The second panel and discussion involve the participants
from each of the 13 districts reporting on the situation and challenges face on
protecting the rights of the migrant workers.
Later they were divided into 4 discussion groups to plan activities to
overcome the challenges and promote awareness on safe-migration. The workshop
recommendation includes the following:
consultation on the situation of migrant workers in Xayabuly Province
to find solutions to the challenges among the stakeholders: Trade union,
Labour Department, Foreign Affairs Department, the Police( Immigration) Department, and
the Youth Union
- Role of
the Trade union on the protection of the rights of migrant workers
- Both the provincial and district trade union to develop better
understanding of the ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion the
Rights of Migrant Workers
develop better understanding of the MOU between Lao-Thai on migration and
the Lao trade union law.
Police department should abolish the practice of arresting and collecting
money from migrant workers who return villages. Since 2008, the law does
not permit such collection of fees as punishment from migrant workers.
- To organize
celebration of International Migrant Day on December 18
- Propose to organize a workshop in each province,
2 provinces per year, on the ASEAN Declaration on the protection and
promotion of the rights of the migrant workers.
- In the coming year, the TF-AMW will
continue to work with the LFTU on developing awareness on the ASEAN
Media News on the Workshop:
key parts of the proceedings was telecast on the
following week to create public awareness (17 Aug - Wed:10: 00 am and 5:00 pm;
19 Aug -Fri:8:00 am on Lao star TV; and on 21 Aug -Sun: 6:30 am and 6:30 pm).
The LFTU Newspaper also published information on the workshop and the situation
of the migrant workers in Xayabuly