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Authorities spotlight protection of migrant workers

All migrant workers have rights when it comes to negotiating their working conditions and these rights can be upheld by strengthening the legal mechanisms that govern workers' status.

But for many years these workers have not had their rights protected and have been unable to negotiate with their employers and local authorities because they were not members of a trade union.

Deputy Director General of the Planning and International Cooperation Department, Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, Mr Chom-Gneng Phengthongsavath, made these points yesterday when speaking at a national workshop ahead of the 10th Asean Forum on Migrant Workers to be held in the Philippines next year.

This forum will discuss ways to improve the protection of migrant workers' rights by strengthening legal mechanisms.

Mr Chom-Gneng said officials would share their experiences and make suggestions regarding the protection of workers' rights in addition to discussing practical issues relating to development in Asean countries.

Discussions would include stepping up the protection and promotion of migrant workers' rights against exploitation and mistreatment by enhancing labour migration governance in Asean countries.

Participants would also discuss regional cooperation to fight human trafficking in Asean and developing an Asean instrument on the protection and promotion of migrant workers' rights, he added.

The government, including the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, has worked to protect and promote the rights of migrant workers. It has identified a labour and social welfare programme until 2025 to improve the skills of workers to match market needs so that Lao workers can be competitive at regional and international levels, Mr Chom-Gneng said.

He also noted that workers would soon have improved employment security with the social protection floor and social dialogue in Laos strengthening.

The labour and social welfare programme is developing the workforce based on economic structure, promoting employment services and self employment, strengthening workers' protection, and enhancing industrial relations.

More importantly, the government is focusing on poverty reduction and increasing the earnings of migrant workers and their families through various channels such as microcredit schemes.

The 9th Asean Forum on Migrant Labour, focusing on workers' protection in the region, took place in Vientiane in 2016.

The objective of the forum was to review the progress of the Asean Labour Ministers Work Plan for 2010-2015 as well as various action plans and the Asean Vision 2016-2020.

This included reviewing the progress made in implementing the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers plan for 2011-2020 within the region and other cooperation programmes with dialogue partners.

By Phetphoxay Sengpaseuth
(Latest Update September 21, 2017)

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