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Labour minister urges clarity in recruitment of railway workers

Better coordination is needed to ensure that full and open information is provided about the hiring of Lao workers in the construction of the Laos-China railway.
Speaking at a meeting last week to discuss workers’ rights, Minister of Labour and Social Welfare Dr Khampheng Saysompheng said provincial departments are required to work with district authorities and labour recruitment agencies to publicise job vacancies and prepare workers for construction of the 418-km railway.

Labour officials, recruitment agencies and contractors are supposed to work together in overseeing the recruitment process and provide information about the jobs available.
Dr Khampheng said the information provided to the public was not sufficiently clear regarding the hiring of Lao workers.
However, he said that, overall, labour authorities’ policies had been successful in ensuring that Lao workers’ rights were upheld during employment on the railway.
Lao nationals may apply for positions as specialists in various fields, as technicians, office staff, and skilled labourers.
A senior official from the Skills Development and Employment Department at the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare said people who wanted to work on the railway should approach the bodies in charge to prove they had the necessary skills.
 In 2017, the Chinese contractors said they needed to recruit 7,112 Lao workers for construction of the railway. A total of 211 specialists, 505 technicians, 56 office staff and 6,340 skilled workers were needed.
According to project reports, about 16,000 people are employed in the construction of the railway, of whom about 4,500 are Lao. The railway slices through western Laos from the Boten-Mohan border crossing with China in Luang Namtha province. It passes through Oudomxay, Luang Prabang and Vientiane provinces, and ends in Vientiane.
The government hopes the railway will help transform Laos from being a landlocked country to a land link within the region, while local businesses expect the railway will significantly lower transport costs and enable them to become more competitive.
The Laos-China Railway is a part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative and is one section of an inter-regional rail network linking China to a large number of other countries.

By Phetphoxay Sengpaseuth
(Latest Update February 18, 2020)

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