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Protecting Lao workers’ rights, interests ‘important’: Chinese ambassador 

The Chinese Embassy to Laos attaches great importance to protecting the rights and interests of Lao nationals working for Chinese companies, China’s Ambassador to Laos Wang Wentian told the Minister of Labour and Social Welfare last week.
The ambassador and Dr Khampheng Saysompheng met to discuss ways to ensure effective performance by Lao workers employed by Chinese firms, while ensuring their rights and interests were protected.
Mr Wang said the embassy was pleased to cooperate with the ministry and relevant Lao sectors in this matter.
He told Dr Khampheng that Chinese contractors working on the Laos-China railway had run free training courses in Luang Prabang province in a bid to improve the skills of Lao workers so they could work competently.
Unfortunately, not many people attended the courses.
Training sessions were arranged for 30 people each but only 30 participants in total turned up for the last three sessions, the ambassador said.
“After undergoing training, Lao workers can use their skills to work not only on the railway but for other development projects,” Mr Wang told the minister through an interpreter.
To encourage and enable more Lao people to work on the railway, he urged Dr Khampheng to publicise the training courses in the hope that more people would attend.
Mr Wang promised that his embassy would do its best to uphold the rights and interests of Lao workers employed by Chinese companies.
Wages must be paid on time and Lao laws and regulations complied with, he added.
“This is part of protecting the rights and interests of Lao workers,” the ambassador said.
He asked Dr Khampheng to inform the embassy if the ministry received a report suggesting that a Chinese company had infringed Lao law concerning labour matters.
Mr Wang promised the embassy would act if it received such a report.
According to the embassy, more than 200 enterprises from China are now doing business in Laos. 
In a press conference held at the embassy last week, the ambassador told Lao and Chinese reporters that the Chinese government had mechanisms in place to regulate and manage Chinese companies investing overseas.
Companies wanting to invest in foreign countries need to be registered with the relevant Chinese authorities before going abroad. They must also be registered with Chinese embassies in the countries where they are working. This helps prevent poorly-operating companies from going abroad, the ambassador said.
Dr Khampheng praised the positive approach conveyed by Ambassador Wang and said his ministry was pleased to work with the embassy in this regard.
The minister admitted that Laos had a largely unskilled workforce and welcomed the provision of free training courses.
He pledged to work with other ministries and divisions to encourage more people to attend the training programmes so that more Lao nationals could be employed on the railway project.
In the long run, the minister asked for the ambassador’s support to help the ministry work with its Chinese counterpart towards signing a labour cooperation agreement.
Laos has hired Chinese workers to meet the country’s growing need for labour, while Lao workers need to undergo training, Dr Khampheng said.
A cooperation document is essential in managing and protecting Chinese workers, while enhancing Chinese assistance in training Lao workers.
The ambassador pledged to extend support in this regard.
China is one of Laos’ top three foreign investors, operating in a wide range of areas including hydropower, banking, economic development zones, agriculture, and construction. Projects in these fields have created a number of jobs for Lao nationals.   

By Souksakhone Vaenkeo
(Latest Update
March 20,

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