VIENTIANE (ILO News) – Representatives from the government, employers, workers and civil society discussed strategies to increase social security coverage among private sector workers in Lao PDR during a workshop held by the International Labour Organization.
Participants shared ideas and experiences on how to improve access to health care and income security, particularly in cases of work injury and occupational diseases. The workshop was organised by the ILO project “Occupational Safety and Health in Lao PDR’s Supply Chains”, funded by the EU, in cooperation with the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare and the National Social Security Fund.
“A substantial number of private sector employees are currently not covered by social security. This leaves them unprotected against the consequences of work accidents and diseases, which can cause long-term financial burden to them and their families. The Lao PDR Government is committed to address this situation in a strategic effort by working closely with other line ministries, social partners and other organisations as relevant”, says His Excellency Mr. Padermphone Sonthany, Vice Minister, Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, Lao PDR.
While the private business sector in Lao PDR plays an increasing role in the country’s economic growth, only 2,287 private businesses are currently paying contributions into the fund, covering 117,509 employees, according to the National Social Security Fund.
“As LNNCI, it is our obligation to encourage our members to pay contributions into social security. We welcome this workshop as an opportunity to agree among government, employers and workers on a way forward to improve the level of social security coverage in Lao PDR” explains Mr. Xaybandith Rasphone, Permanent Board of Directors at LNCCI, Vice Chairman of the Employers’ Committee.
In addition to improved stakeholder cooperation and coordination, participants emphasized that law enforcement and awareness raising were critical to address the challenge of social security coverage in the private sector.
“Workers in private businesses need to understand better their right to be covered by social security and the benefits they are entitled to. LFTU is ready to contribute to information campaigns and other initiatives that highlight the importance and benefits of social security fund membership” says Mr. Thongphim Vongrapha, Vice Director, Social Protection Department, LFTU.
Highlighting the importance of knowledge sharing, participants also developed a joint action plan to improve social security registration and payment of contributions, as well as data collection.
The workshop was funded by the Vision Zero Fund (VZF), a G 7 multi-donor initiative, which is administered by the ILO. The aim of the VZF is to reduce work-related accidents, injuries and diseases and improve access to employment injury insurance in global supply chains. The Vision Zero Fund in Lao PDR is currently funded through a contribution from the EU.
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