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NCPO to get proposals on labour issues soon

THE BOARD of Trade of Thailand and the Thai Chamber of Commerce (TCC) will submit proposals to the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) this month for increasing the efficiency of the government and the private sector in regard to solving labour problems in the Kingdom.

The goal is to ensure that Thailand's status will be upgraded in the United States' "Trafficking in Persons" (TIP) report next year, and that the country will not lose export privileges to the US and the European Union, or competitiveness vis-a-vis other trading partners, as a result of labour problems.

Bhumindr Harinsutr, vice chairman of the TCC, said yesterday that the chamber would first propose the plan to the Public-Private Joint Standing Committee this coming Monday.

The agreed version by three private-sector organisations - the chamber, the Federation of Thai Industries and the Thai Bankers Association - will then be proposed to the ruling junta during a meeting between the NCPO and the committee on July 16.

The meeting will be the first that the NCPO has had with the country's three most powerful business organisations to discuss economic issues.

The priority emphasis will be on finding a long-term solution for labour problems in Thailand, solving issues relating to alien workers, and solving issues concerning workers in fishery industries.

The TCC will propose that the NCPO strictly regulate labour brokers and agencies, so that foreign workers are only sought and employed under fair conditions, said Poj Aramwattananont, deputy secretary-general of the Board of Trade and president of the Thai Fishery Producers Coalition.

He said many illegal agencies had been uncovered, and that such operations caused problems both for workers and the factories that employed them.

He suggested that the military government regulate all agency businesses, so that alien workers do not suffer as a result of being lured by such operators.

Among the roughly 2 million Myanmar workers, 300,000 Cambodians and 50,000 Vietnamese in Thailand, many are working illegally, he said, adding that the government needs to have all foreign workers legally registered.

According to the Office of Foreign Workers Administration, as of May, 1.52 million foreign workers were legally registered in the Kingdom.

As a long-term solution to the labour issue, the TCC proposes that the government draw up a five-to-10-year plan to increase labour supply and organise foreign workers legally, Bhumindr said.

It suggests that the government upgrade the education system to produce more vocational students, to serve demand in the private sector, including small enterprises.

Thailand also needs to collaborate with source-of-labour countries - mainly Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam - to draw up labour-management plans as well as create fair conditions for workers.

Involved government agencies should also set up an online database to collect information on fishing boats and fishery enterprises along the coast. A government agency should also regularly inspect fishing boats, and their workers.

Bhumindr added that since Thailand was continuously striving to resolve its labour problems, the country should be upgraded in next year's TIP report.

Moreover, as to the revision of the List of Goods Producers by Child Labour and Forced Labour (the TVPRA List), Thai products - including sugar cane, shrimp, tuna, other fish and garments - should recover their benefits from the US under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), he said.


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