ILO/Japan Multi-bilateral Programme

The ILO/Japan Multi-bilateral Programme covers Asia and the Pacific countries in promoting Decent Work in the region through the projects at community level, national level and regional level.

The ILO/Japan Multi-bilateral Programme provides technical cooperation projects as a Regional Programme since 1974.

Developing countries in the Asia and Pacific region need support for appropriate strategies to address labour issues. In times of economic turmoil, massive underemployment and wage shrinkage increase the demand for improved employment opportunities, and in times of a stable economy, these countries need to continue to develop skills training.

The Government of Japan, acknowledging the difficulties faced by developing countries in the region, worked with ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (ROAP) in Bangkok to establish the ILO/Japan Multi-bilateral Programme in 1974. This regional programme combines the technical expertise of the ILO, with financial support from the Government of Japan. The ILO/Japan Multi-bilateral Programme covers Asia and the Pacific countries in promoting Decent Work in the region through the projects at community level, national level and regional level.

Thematic priorities

The Government of Japan have been supporting ILO’s decent work country programmes and regional priorities with ILO’s expertise on labour, especially in focus to social dialogues, social protection and collaboration with ASEAN and UN organizations.

Currently, the Government of Japan provides support following projects:

Institutional framework

The ILO/Japan Multi-bilateral Programme, under the overall guidance of the Regional Director in ILO-ROAP, works in close collaboration with specialists in ILO Decent Work Teams and ILO Country Offices in the target countries in the region. The ILO/Japan Multi-bilateral Programme Desk comprising Chief Technical Adviser,, Programme Officer, Programme Assistant, is responsible for ensuring the smooth delivery of the projects to the beneficiaries in the region as well as the management of CTA and other staff in the projects in ILO-ROAP, Decent Work Teams and Country Offices.

An Annual Review Meeting is normally organised yearly, as a mechanism for the Government of Japan and the ILO to share experiences and lessons learned, report the progress of continuing activities and agree upon the forthcoming year’s work plan.


Over 37 years, the ILO/Japan Multi-bilateral Programme has significantly contributed to the improvement of labour administration, labour standards and employment in the region by various projects including capacity building, regional and national seminars, network building, training, research and personnel contribution of Japanese technical officers. Examples of current achievements are for instance:

For further information please contact:

ILO/Japan Multi-bilateral Programme
Fax: +662 288 1023


The garment sector is Lao PDR’s largest manufacturing employer and makes a significant contribution to annual national exports. Around 30,000 workers are employed by about 60 exporting factories and 45 subcontracting firms. Garment workers are mostly women under 25. They tend to see the work as temporary, generating extra income for their families and improving their own prospects. Most have limited a limited understanding of their contractual rights and obligations, and working conditions in the sector are often difficult, with long hours and compulsory overtime. Garment sector employers identify labour supply as their most significant constraint. For example, some report that only half their workers stay beyond three years. Firms find it hard to improve productivity while regularly losing experienced workers, and the sector remains stuck in a cycle of low productivity and high staff turnover.


The project aims to improve working conditions, productivity and competitiveness in the Lao garment manufacturing sector by strengthening the national labour inspection system to ensure compliance with national labour laws in line with international labour standards. The project will also improve workers’ and employers’ understanding of labour law and their role in ensuring good working conditions, while empowering factoring managers and employees to design and implement workplace improvement plans.

To achieve these objectives the project will work at three levels to:

• Improve the capacity of the labour inspection system to achieve compliance, using up-to-date ILO tools and methodologies and incorporate lessons learned from other labour inspectorates in the region;
• Develop and implement an awareness-raising strategy for workers and employers so that they are aware of their rights and obligations under the labour law; and,
• Implement a targeted compliance strategy for the garment sector.

Project Activities and Outputs

The project is organised around three main outcomes, with a set of activities designed to achieve each outcome.

Outcome 1: The capacity of the labour inspection system in Lao PDR is improved so that it can effectively undertake labour inspection functions for the benefit of workers and employers in the garment sector.

• The development of a national labour inspection plan setting out common objectives, standardised working procedures and key performance indicators
• The design and adoption of labour inspection tools to improve the ability of inspectors to carry out inspection visits and to collect and analyse data
• Working with the Government and social partners towards the ratification of ILO Convention No 81 on Labour Inspection

Outcome 2: Workers and employers are aware of their rights and obligations and understand how to achieve workplace compliance

• The production and dissemination of awareness-raising materials for employers and workers on national labour laws and ILO fundamental principles and rights at work
• The development and use of training materials on workers’ rights, industrial relations and productivity

Outcome 3: Factories improve working conditions and productivity through workplace cooperation using the project advisory and training services

• The creation of workplace improvement committees with worker representatives freely elected by factory workers
• Enterprise assessments to determine how to achieve compliance with national and international standards, with assistance from the labour inspectorate
• Workplace improvement plans are developed, agreed and implemented based on the assessment findings.

For further information please contact:

Ms Medeleine Jones
Chief Technical Adviser
C/O Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare
Department of Labour Management
4th floor, Pangkham Road, Vientiane, Lao PDR
Tel.: +856 20 7853 6636