Laos, Thailand plan to extend cooperation in labour management

Date: 15, Apr, 2016   Time: 9:48 am

The governments of Laos and Thailand are seeking to broaden cooperation in labour issues, aiming to protect their workers in either country and provide assistance in skill training.

Director General of the Labour Management Department, Mr Phongxaysak Inthalath, told Vientiane Times yesterday that officials from both sides were discussing an amendment to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by the two governments in 2002.

He added that the current MOU on labour cooperation only covered employment, and protection of workers’ interests in either country under the rule of law was not addressed. Cooperation in workforce training was also not mentioned in the MOU.

The planned amendment is expected to incorporate these three areas – cooperation in employment, protection of workers’ interests, and skill training, he said.

The amendment was tabled at a meeting in Vientiane last week between Lao and Thai delegations led by Minister of Labour and Social Welfare Dr Khampheng Saysompheng and his Thai counterpart General Sirichai Distakul.

Mr Phongxaysak said technical officials from both sides are expected to hold a meeting next week to discuss the details of the amendment. The amended MOU is expected to be signed by the end of next month.

Statistics from the ministry’s Skill Development and Employment Department show that 277, 439 Lao people are working legally in Thailand – the most popular destination for Lao workers seeking employment opportunities.

However, a number of Lao people are still working illegally in Thailand and the governments of the two countries are working together to legalise their status.

It was reported earlier last year that Thai authorities registered more than 200,000 Lao workers and about 9,000 family members across Thailand, whose status needs to be legalised.

So far, more than 77,000 Lao workers have been legalised since the three-phase documentation process began. The first phase was carried out in 2010 and the second in 2012, while the third phase is ongoing.

With the current phase set to finish by the end of this month, officials in charge said they would be unable to legalise all the remaining workers, citing limited time.

Officials said authorities from both sides will need to decide the details of the next phase of the legalisation programme.

It has been reported that illegal workers are vulnerable to mistreatment as well as becoming victims of human trafficking.

The ministry has warned Lao people who plan work in Thailand to go to labour recruitment agencies in Laos and complete all of the documents that enable them to work in Thailand legally so that their interests are fully protected by the rule of law.

Source: Vientiane Times Issue 70 (23 March 2016)