Minister opens discussion on extending protection to millions of informal economy workers

An ILO sponsored seminar on extending labour laws to protect workers in the informal economy in Thailand opens, including participators reprecenting labour inspectors, employers, homeworkers, and agricultural workers.

Press release | 30 June 2005

A seminar on extending labour laws to protect workers in the informal economy - who make up the vast majority ofThailand’s labour force - will open this Friday (1st July).

Of the 34 million 1 people in the Thai labour force, only 9.9 million work in the so-called formal economy and thus enjoy the full protection of labour laws in areas like payment of wages, benefits, occupational safety and health and the environment. The other 24.4 million (70 per cent) of the workforce are in the informal sector. Among these are 600,000 homeworkers and 4.22 million agricultural workers.

The seminar on “Labour Protection for Workers in the Informal Economy” will be opened by Minster of Labour, Mr. Sorraat Klinprathum and is expected to be attended by more than 400 people, including labour inspectors, employers, homeworkers, and agricultural workers.

The event is being sponsored by the International Labour Organization (using funds from theUK’s Department for International Development) as part of its project on the Informal Economy, Poverty and Employment.

In recent months two new Ministerial Regulations have come into force (the Ministerial Regulation on Labor Protection for Home Workers 2004 and the Ministerial Regulation on Labor Protection for Agriculture Workers 2004, became effective on 8 September 2004 and 13 April 2005 respectively), extending the protection of Section 22 of the Labour Protection Act 1998 to those in the informal economy, including agricultural workers who are employed for less than a year.

The Regulations mean that labour inspectors and labour administrative systems will now be able to reach informal economy workers.  Protection in areas like occupational health and safety, women workers, child labour, and welfare will also extend to cover them.

“The regulations were enacted because the Ministry of Labour realizes how important labour protection is and the necessity in extending it to workers in the informal economy. Introducing the regulations is a laudable first step, but implementing them is a challenging task,” said Mr. Sathaporn Charupa, Director of the Labour Protection Bureau of the Ministry of Labour. “The informal economy covers a wide variety of forms, conditions, tasks, routines, workplaces, and lines of accountability. If the new measures are to be effective we need to have a precise understanding of workers’ conditions, what protection means, who has the main responsibility of providing it and how it can be most effectively delivered”.

“This seminar will help to build this understanding, by encouraging social dialogue and bringing together workers, employers, community leaders and government officials so that they learn about the regulations, discuss potential problems and brainstorm ideas for implementation. The Informal Economy Project views this as an important initiative of the Labour Ministry and fully supports it.”  Rakawin Leechanavanichpan, National Project Coordinator of the Informal Economy Project, added.

The seminar will be held at the Miracle Grande Hotel, starting at9am. It be will be preceded (on Thursday June 30th) by a half-day workshop for workers, to brief them on the details of the new Ministerial Regulations, which will take place at the Louis Tavern Hotel at 2pm.

For more information please contact:
Rakawin Leechanavanichpan,
National Coordinator – ILO Informal Economy Project
Tel: 02 288 2629  

1 National Statistics Office data, 2002.