By PRATCH RUJIVANAROM
THE Labour Ministry and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) are collaborating under a three-year programme to promote sustainable supply chains and standardised employment conditions in the food and vehicle-parts sectors.
Thailand’s economy and society in general can benefit significantly by adopting sustainable supply chains and decent work conditions, Labour Minister Pol General Adul Sangsingkeo said yesterday.
Progress in these areas will not only provide benefits via strengthened corporate social responsibility, but will also help the Kingdom overcome challenges in international trade, he said. The minister was speaking at the launch of the “Decent Work for Sustainable Enterprises in Global in Global Supply Chains in Thailand” programme.
Thailand is one of six Asian countries to join the international campaign, which aims to foster cross-sector collaboration to promote human rights, sustainable business operations and decent working standards throughout supply chains.
Apart from Thailand, the ILO is also working with the governments of China, Japan, Myanmar, Philippines and Vietnam to promote “decent work” and sustainable supply chains.
Adul said that under this programme, the authorities, led by the Labour Ministry, will work closely with ILO, business operators and labour unions to pursue improved human rights as well as labour and environmental protection standards in the agricultural and automobile industries.
He noted that Thailand was facing major challenges from a significant shift in the global market caused by multiple factors, including trade agreements that require stronger labour-rights protection standards, rapid technological advancement, globalisation and climate change. With a background of uncertainty, it is vital for Thailand to implement the programme in a meaningful way.
“Disruptive factors in global trade have contributed to uncertainties in our labour market, but this programme, which encourages responsible business conduct and labour rights promotion, will help Thailand’s business sectors to prepare and smoothly cope with trade challenges,” Adul said.
“Moreover, we can achieve a better quality of life for workers and [improved] environmental protection standards, and also boost the country’s trade competitiveness on the global market by improving labour rights protection as well as more responsible business operations.”
Adul also committed to his ministry reforming local laws so they meet international standards of labour protection, human rights and business.
Graeme Buckley, ILO country director for Thailand, Cambodia and Laos, said ILO and its partners see this programme as a way to ensure sustainability and proper human-rights standards through the supply chains of food and automotive parts. The two sectors are the most prominent industries in Thailand, employ a sizeable number of workers and produce the majority of Thailand’s exports.
“The ILO is working closely with stakeholders to attain better employment conditions and rights protection for all workers in these two sectors.
“It is ensuring that workers have a fair working contract, work in a safe environment under a reasonable timeframe, have access to basic welfare, and have a right to form a labour union,” Buckley said.
He conceded that this was not an easy task to accomplish within a three-year timeframe, given that many business operators were unhappy about potential impacts that stricter regulations and stronger labour standards would have on their traditional way of doing business.
“We urge every stakeholder to talk and work together, to raise awareness about responsible business conduct and labour rights protection. We must also find common ground for all stakeholders |to build on this campaign in the future,” Buckley added.