The 2nd Regional Consultation on Prospects Challenges to Developing an ASEAN Standard and Mechanism for the Rights of Workers
By Natchanaht Thitipak, 17 February 2015
The 2nd Regional Consultation on Prospects Challenges to Developing an ASEAN Standards and Mechanisms for the Rights of Workers is co-organised by the Law Reform Commission of Thailand, the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand and the Representative of Thailand to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR). The meeting was held at the Holiday Inn Silom Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand on 16 February 2015.
The participants of the meeting included representatives from the national worker’s organizations, trade unions and civil society organizations (CSOs) including academics, from regional civil society organizations who are working on labour, migrant workers and human rights based issues in Southeast Asia, Regional/international experts on labour rights and/or human rights (e.g. ILO, IOM) and representatives from ASEAN Secretariat
Mr. Arak Prommanee, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Labour of Thailand welcomed everyone on behalf of the Ministry of Labour of Thailand. Ms. Sunee Chiayarose, Vice President of the Law Reform Commission of Thailand (LRCT) shared that workers, both in country and migrant, are facing problems with respect to their rights—despite their employment status. Ms. Chaiyarose said “ASEAN has developed various standards and mechanisms to protect the rights of various types of workers. There has been a need to enhance these bodies and mechanisms to ensure the full promotion and promotion of the rights of workers in ASEAN. This is the main of objective of the LCRT therefore this consultation meeting will focus on the study conducted and draft agreement. This will improve not just employment standard, but also to uplift labour conditions and economic benefits at the regional level.”
In the discussion on Protection of the Rights of Workers: Experiences and Challenges, Ms. Melizel Asuncion, research team member of the Study on Labour Migration and Possible Protection Mechanism(s) in ASEAN, provided research findings of the Study. Ms. Asuncion said “The ASEAN Community Roadmap includes some aspects related to migrant workers but there is still no concrete and comprehensive regional policy that focuses on rights in the region. While Ms. Suntaree Seang-Ging, HomeNet Southeast Asia presented on Informal Workers issues. Ms. Seang-Ging recommended that there is a need for ASEAN to extend labour protective standards to all workers, regardless of their employment status and conditions.
The participants discuss on The Possible (ASEAN) Legal Standard and Mechanism on the Rights of Workers which was was chaired by Dr. Sriprapha Petcharamesree, Member of the Sub-Committee on Legal Reforms in ASEAN Community, LRCT. Dr. Sripapha said the main objective is the realization of a regional system for the promotion and protection of workers in the region and emphasized the agreement only requires a minimum of five ratifications to automatically enter into force. The participants have worked on group work to discuss on the provision of the draft agreement and see what the next steps of the agreement are. The ways to advocate for all ASEAN governments to ratify the Agreement were discussed. The Draft Agreement has to be further discussed amongst various stakeholders during the ASEAN Peoples’ Forum in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in April 2015.
Dr. Laddawan Tantivitayapitak, Secretary General of LRCT wrapped up of the discussion. Dr. Laddawan reminded that a “One ASEAN Standard” is the vision for the full promotion and protect of all workers. She stressed that each member of the ASEAN society should play an active role in materializing this standard for all kinds of workers found in the region.