RSCA in Action

Businesses share insights on navigating complex labour issues

The ILO’s Responsible Supply Chains in Asia and Sedex hold a workshop on promoting decent work in Asian supply chains

News | 05 November 2019
Participants and trainers at the workshop on promoting decent work in Asian supply chains
Bangkok (ILO News) - According to Body Shop executive Esther Tsang, it is relatively rare to hear what other companies are doing to ensure good working standard for their workers. “Hearing colleagues talking about their real corporate experience today give us inspiration and idea on how we could work together.”

Tsang is participating in a workshop on promoting decent work in Asian Supply Chains jointly run by Responsible Supply Chains in Asia, an EU, ILO and OECD collaboration and Sedex – an ethical trade service provider. She was among nearly 60 people working for businesses, auditing and consulting firms, government agencies and an NGO across Southeast Asia being trained on how to ensure decent working conditions amidst the region’s complex labour situations.

Esther Tsang - ethical trade manager of the cosmetic and skincare producer, The Body Shop International Limited
“We are already following the ILO and Sedex’s guidelines. But (a policy) 'on paper' is one thing, the challenge is how we put it into practice,” says Tsang.

Supply chains are powerful drivers of Asian economies. Although they have created employment opportunities for economic and social development, there is also evidence, however, that they can have negative implications for decent working conditions. This training engaged with participants to identify potential decent work deficits in three key areas in their supply chains and learn how to respond to the issues effectively, Child Labour, Forced Labour and unfair recruitment practices.

The workshop invited participants to discuss real case studies derived from actual research. It featured a training about fair recruitment conducted by the ILO’s Senior Programme Officer, Marja Paavilainen from TRIANGLE in ASEAN programme. The topic of forced labour and child labour was led by Aarti Kapoor from a human rights consultancy Embode.

In charge of regulatory affairs for a Thai food ingredients supplier, Sukallaya Tongsakoon said she gained a lot of new knowledge and hoped that the human resource officers from her company could join future workshops to also learn about fair recruitment.
“Many of our clients are now getting stricter on labour standard compliance in the past few years,” said Sukallaya from Wang Chemicals Co., Ltd. “We, as a supplier, have to be responsive.”

Sukallaya Tongsakoon, a regulatory affairs specialist from Wang Chemicals Co., Ltd.
Participants also had an opportunity to exchange their thoughts and experiences and discussed common challenges. Like Tsang, attendees said they were benefitted from a variety of experience in the room as there is a mix of industries and countries in which they work. The seminar encouraged participants to build networks for future collaboration.

Enhancing inter-industry dialogue on about key issues in the Asian supply chains is a key aim of the event, according to Walter Lin, Sedex’s Asia Managing Director:

“Having these forums is essential for progress as it enables organizations to share common challenges and insights, to create possible ways to cope with issues and make improvements,” he says.

Fredy, Guayacan, programme manager for Responsible Supply Chains in Asia programme reminded participants that improving working conditions is not only good for workers in the region but also good for business, especially now that there is growing concern about labour rights in the production chain among consumers globally.

“Companies should not implement responsible business conduct because it’s obligatory but because it increases productivity and competitiveness at the enterprise level,” said Guayacan.

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The Responsible Supply Chains in Asia Project is a European Union-funded project developed in close collaboration with ILO and OECD that enables businesses to dialogue on challenges and opportunities in relation to corporate social responsibility/ responsible business conduct in six Asian countries – China, Japan, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, and Viet Nam.

In Thailand, the project’s focus is on the agriculture and automotive sectors, both of which account for a high number of jobs in the region and play an important role in trade linkages with the EU, within the Thai economy and across Asia. This initiative is one of the expressions of the EU's long-standing commitment to promote human rights, decent work and sustainable development. For more information about the Responsible Supply Chains in Asia project, visit www.ilo.org/rsca

For more information please contact:
Ms. Chayanich Thamparipattra
National Project Coordinator
thamparipattra@ilo.org, 094 772 3322