Conference on Improving Labour Rights and Working Conditions in the Food Supply Chain: Sharing Good Practices and Moving Forward

The International Labour Office (ILO), supported by the Delegation of the European Union to Thailand and in partnership with the Foreign Trade Association (FTA) through its Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI) hosted a roundtable event; “Improving labour rights and working conditions in the food supply chain: Sharing good practices and moving forward”.

Press release | Nonthaburi, Thailand | 27 May 2016

More than 100 international participants joined the roundtable event; “Improving labour rights and working conditions in the food supply chain: Sharing good practices and moving forward” on 26 May 2016, in Bangkok.    ​

BANGKOK (ILO News) - Attended by more than 100 international buyers, local industry leaders and suppliers, the Thai government representatives, workers and employer’s organizations, and civil society representatives, a consensus emerged from the conference on several key recommendations. These include (i) the importance of ratifying and implementing the ILO Conventions 87 on Freedom of Association and Convention 98 on Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining; (ii) the importance of regulating recruitment channels and fair recruitment practices; (iii) the importance of creating and implementing a sustainable and long term migration policy; and (iv) the importance of building a more responsible and transparent supply chain by rewarding good labour practices and working with producers in meeting standards.

“Efforts to improve labour rights and working conditions is not just about addressing a single supply chain, it is about looking at systemic solutions that benefit buyers and suppliers towards a long term business partnership,” Veronica Rubio, BSCI Senior Strategic Issues Manager told the participants at the opening of the one day roundtable.

The event provided an opportunity for stakeholders invested in the food supply chain to share challenges, lessons learned and good practices in business efforts to improve labour practices, including migration management, as Thailand endeavours to combat unacceptable forms of work in its food and fisheries supply chains.

Participants acknowledged that while business practices were improving, as evidenced by the results of auditing, there was still room for improvement and recommendations put forward were for better communication and closer collaboration between all parties in a collective effort to tackle difficulties in the global supply chain.

“While we recognize there is competition among us, the only way forward is through collaboration,” said Cindi Chan, Social Compliance Manager of Swedish retailer ICA, “This event provided the perfect stage for producers and processors to exchange ideas with international buyers and gather inputs from government representatives, and worker and civil society organizations.”

There was also a strong call for all parties to take measures to mitigate any unintended consequences of actions, especially on vulnerable workers and children, resulting from pressure or intense scrutiny on any single supply chain sector. “Efforts in any one supply chain, however welcome, must not come at the expense of decent work in other supply chains. Vigilance and measures to protect workers informed by genuine multi-stakeholder dialogue are essential in mitigating such risks” said Simrin Singh of the ILO.

In assisting these efforts in the Thai fishing and seafood supply chain, the International Labour Office (ILO), in partnership with Thailand’s Ministry of Labour and the Delegation of the European Union to Thailand, has launched a new project, “Combatting Unacceptable Forms of Work in the Thai Fishing and Seafood Industry” and will continue to engage with BSCI in 2016/17 on promoting effective adherence to labour standards in the Thai food and fishery supply chain.

For further information please contact:

Jiraporn Wongpaithoon
Communications Officer
ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok
Tel.: +662 288 1664
Email: jiraporn@ilo.org 

Ana-Maria Martin
Media and Editorial Planning Coordinator
Foreign Trade Association
Brussels
Tel.: + 32 (0) 2 739 48 22
Email: ana.maria.martin@fta-intl.org