Since Thailand has joined the ILO as a founding member and it has hosted the ILO regional office in Bangkok, trade unions have campaigned for the promotion, ratification and implementation of ILO standards, especially on convention No.87 and No.98. As a decade-long effort, at May Day, trade unions have submitted a letter of demand to the Prime Minister for the ratification of the two conventions. The trade unions’ ratification campaigns have been intensified in recent years in particular after four national federations such as LCT, SERC, TTUC and NCPE signed on a MOU with ILO/ACTRAV in April 2009 to work together towards the ratification of ILO C.87 and C.98.
Then, 12 registered national union centres formed a “Working Group to promote ratification of ILO C.87 and C.98” in October 2009. The Working Group adopted a work plan for ratification campaigns at the “TU-ILO Workshop on the Gaps and Challenges in the Realization of FOA and CB in Thailand”, which was held at Novotel, Bangkok on 3-4 Nov. 2009, with the participation of around 30 union leaders from 12 national federations. The work plan includes the following five areas of activities:
- Organising massive awareness-raising for workers and the public on the need for ratification of C.87 and C.98;
- Seven Learning Platforms in the Industrial Zones;
- Building International solidarity between GUFs and the Working Group;
- The Lobbying Activities;
- The Movement for Advocating the Government to Ratify the Conventions.
This work plan has been implementing well, with the financial and technical inputs of ILO, FES and ACILS as well as with the voluntary initiative of the Union Working Group. Three institutions, ILO, FES and ACILS, have closely collaborated to provide support to the Working Group in order to implement its work plan. The good coordination and cordial cooperation between the three institutions had resulted in the successful organization of some big events. The first joint event was “Dialogue on ILO Convention 87 and 98: Way towards Ratification?” held at Eastin Hotel, Bangkok on 4 October 2009, with the participation of around 150 people, including representatives of trade unions, employers (ECOT) and the Ministry of Labour. For the first time, the representative of the ECOT expressed the positive consideration of supporting ratification of C.98.
In parallel, the ITUC-AP and Global Union Federations (GUFs) have also worked with their own union affiliates to promote FOA and CB. The “ITUC-AP/ITUC-TC/GUFs Conference on Ratification of ILO Conventions 87 and 98” held in Bangkok on 26-27 Sept. 2010, with some 80 people, including ITUC-AP, TWARO, ICEM, ITUC-Thai Council, and ILO, was a joint activity. At the World Day on Decent Work on 8 October 2009 and 2010, the trade unions marched street with demand of ratification of C.87 and C.98 as well as with public advocacy on the conventions.
In response to the mounting domestic and international pressure, the Ministry of Labour formed a “Tripartite Working Group” to discuss the barriers and opportunities of ratifying ILO C.87 and C.98 in late 2009. The Tripartite Working Group is constituted by representatives from trade unions, the ECOT and the government. A large number of senior government officials from all ministries and authorities relevant to the process of the ratification are involved. To analyse the feasibility of ratification of the conventions and their impacts on the national economy and security, the Tripartite Working Group meeting has been frequently held on 4 Nov. 2009, 15 Dec. 2009, 18 Jan. 2010, 23 Sept. 2010, late Dec. 2010 and 8 May 2012.
As a consequence of the on-going efforts and pressure by trade unions, on 18 January 2010, the Tripartite Working Group came to consensus on the ratification and recommended the Cabinet to take steps for the ratification of the conventions. Then, the Cabinet put forward the request for ratification to the Parliament. The Cabinet submitted ILO C.87 and C.98 to the House of Representative (parliament) for approval.
Due to the political instability in February-April 2010, all union activities concerning the ratification of C.87 and C.98 have been suspended. Then, a “Press Conference and Discussion on One Year of Advocacy on Ratification of ILO C.87 and C.98: Progress and Challenges” was held with a joint initiative among ILO, FES and ACILS at Asia Hotel, Bangkok on 22 Sept. 2010, with the participation of around 100 unionists. It aimed to raise the public awareness on the importance of ratifying the conventions and to revitalize the activities of the Union Working Group discouraged by the political disorder.
An “Interactive Session with Members of Parliament” was organised at Amari Watergate Hotel, Bangkok on 15 February 2011 with the participation of more than 35 union representatives and with an objective of seeking endorsement from the parliament. However, no parliamentarian turned up to the meeting because the parliament was about to be resolved for the upcoming general election. Nevertheless, the participating trade unions reassured their commitment with their continued journey of ratification.
Again, the heavy floods throughout the country in late 2011 disrupted the process of ratification. The concern and interest of the tripartite constituents were concentrated on the impact and recovery from the floods. Also, the government plans to amend the Constitution and withdrew the submission of ratification from the Parliament in late 2011.
During the biennium, 2010-2011, the ILO has implemented a country work plan with the tripartite constituents in Thailand and collaborated with them to draft a decent work country programme (DWCP). However, except one outcome for workers’ activities, the ratification of C.87 and C.98 and relevant activities was excluded from the DWCP for Thailand. Fortunately, the draft DWCP, 2012-2015, includes the ratification of the two conventions as a priority and schedules to ratify them by 2014.
Therefore, this conference, which will discuss the past, present and future of ratification and implementation of C.87 and C.98, attempts to consolidate the on-going ratification campaign by the Union Working Group and to stimulate the tripartite discussion to step forward the ratification of C.87 and C.98.
- To evaluate the Union Working Group’s action plan, being implemented since October 2009 and review it;
- To extend the ratification of the conventions to provincial level with the participation of trade unions at provinces
- To review the Tripartite Working Group’s past activities and identify the main obstacles in moving toward the ratification of C.87 and C.98
- To stimulate the tripartite discussion to step forward the ratification of C.87 and C.98 in line with the implementation of the DWCP for Thailand, 2012-2016.
- To contribute to outcome 802 for the DWCP for Thailand.
- The action plan of the Union Working Group revised and implemented.
- The regional level ratification campaign launched linking to the national ratification campaign
- The Tripartite Working Group led by the Ministry of Labour activated to remove the identified barriers and to move ahead with the ratification of C.87 and C.98
- The tripartite constituents actively discussed and reached consensus for the ratification of the conventions with the timeline of the DWCP, 2012-2016.
A total of 150 people, representing national and provincial trade unions, labour ministries and other ministries and government authorities, ECOT, the parliament, the Legal Reform Commission, the academia, labour friendly civil society and ILO
Venue and date
Amari Watergate Hotel, Ballroom A and B, 29-30 August 2012
Day 1: 29th August, 2012 (Wed)
- Welcome remarks by Mr Jiyuan Wang, Director of Country Office for Thailand, Cambodia and Lao PDR, ILO
- Welcome remarks by Mr Chinnachote Saengsung, representative of Thai trade unions
- Keynote address by the Employers' Confederation of Thailand
- Keynote address by Mr Dan Cunniah, Director, Bureau for Workers’ Activities, ILO Geneva
- Opening remarks by Labour Minister of Thailand
Group photo and Tea break
Introduction of conference objectives and programme and self-introduction of the participants
- Mr Pongthiti Pongsilamanee, Deputy General Secretary for Education, State Enterprise Workers' Relations Confederation
1) History, progress, challenges and the future of the Working Group to promote ratification of ILO C.87 and C.98
- Presented by Mr Chalee Loysoong, Chairman of the Union Working Group on the Ratification of C.87 and C.98.
2) ILO and trade union collaboration on the ratification of ILO C.87 and C.98 in Thailand
- Presented by Mr Pong-Sul Ahn, Sr. Specialist on Workers’ Activities, ILO DWT, Bangkok
3) Presentation on “Legal and practical barriers in ratifying and implementing ILO C.87 and C.98 in Thailand”
- Presented by Mr Bundit Thanachaisetthawut, Arom Pongse-phagan Foundation
Session 2: Situation analysis on freedom of association
and collective bargaining
- Presented by Mr Tim De Meyer, Sr. Specialist on International Labour Laws and Labour Standard, ILO DWT, Bangkok.
Session 3: A rights-based approach to development with a special reference to FOA and CB as enabling rights
- Presented by Mr Dan Cunniah, Director, ILO/ACTRAV
Session 4: Roles and activities of the Ministry of Labour toward the ratification of C.87 and C.98
- Presented by Mr Arthit Issamo, Director- General Department of Labour Protection and Welfare, Ministry of Labour
Close of day one
Day 2: 30th August, 2012 (Thurs)
Recap of the 1st day and preview of the 2nd day
- Presented by Mr Yongyuth Menta-pao, President of the Confederation of Thai Electrical Appliances, Electronic Automobile & Metalworkers (TEAM)
Session 5: Roles of the Law Reform Commission in ratifying ILO C.87 and C.98
- Presented by Dr. Kanit Na Nakorn, Chair of the Law Reform Commission
Panel discussion: The way forward on the ratification of the C.87 and C.98; practices and gaps of the implementation of the Conventions
- Representative from the Ministry of Labour: Mr Arthit Issamo, Director-General Department of Labour Protection and Welfare, Ministry of labour
- Representative from the employees’ union: Mr. Tawee Techatirawat, President of Thai Trade Union Congress
- Representative from the employers’ organisation: Mr. Anantachai Kunanantakul, President of ECOT
- Representative from the Royal Thai Police:
- Representative of the Parliament: Mr Somsak Kiatsuranont, President of Thai Parliament
- Representative from the ILO: Mr R. Raghwan, Asia Desk, ILO Bureau for Workers’ Activities (ACTRAV), Geneva
- Representative from the Office of the National Security Council: Pol.Gen. Wichean Potephosree, Secretary General of the National Security Council Office of the National Security Council
- Moderated by Ms Sunee Chairos, Labour Law Reform Commission
Session 6: Group work – (4 groups discussing four thematic issues)
1) Group discussion
i. Organising massive awareness-raising for workers (Mr. Thawatchai Polcharoen, NCPE)
ii. Labour law revision in line with C.87 and C.98 (Mr Bundit Thanachaisetthawut)
ii. Provincial level ratification campaign/ activities (Mr Chalee Loysoong, TLSC)
iv. Lobbying and media campaigns (Mr Sawit Keawwan, SERC)
- Moderated by Mr Pongthiti Pongsilamanee, SERC
To be continued
2) 10-minute presentation by each group
- Presented by the leader of each group
Moderated by Mr Pongthiti Pongsilamanee, SERC
Session 7: Report on strategies and the action plans for the ratification and implementation of ILO C.87 and C.98 in Thailand
- Presented by Chinnachote Saengsung, LCT and member of the Working Group
Petition and signature collection
- Mr Sawit Keawwan, representative of Thai trade unions and General Secretary of SERC
- Mr Dan Cunniah, Director, Bureau for Workers’ Activities, ILO Geneva