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06 August 2011 Laos Capacity Building Workshop in Xayabuly
(TF-AMW)
Sat, Aug 06, 2011

Task Force on ASEAN Migrant Workers

Lao Federation of Trade Unions - Labour Protection Department

 Capacity Building Workshop on the Implementation of the ASEAN Declaration on Protection and Promotion the Rights of Migrant Workers Xayabuly Province, Laos, 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 countries.

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.

Objectives:

  • To 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.
  • To share information with trade union leaders about the Task Force on Migrant Workers project objectives, approaches and activities.   
  • To 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.
  • To 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 August 2011.

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 the following:

  • ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion the Rights of Migrant Workers
  • MOU between Lao-Thai on sending and receiving Lao workers to work in Thailand
  • Roles 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:

  1. Regular 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
  2. 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
  3. To develop better understanding of the MOU between Lao-Thai on migration and the Lao trade union law.
  4. Provincial 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.
  5. To organize celebration of International Migrant Day on December 18
  6. 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.
  7. In the coming year, the TF-AMW will continue to work with the LFTU on developing awareness on the ASEAN Declaration.

 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 Province.





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