Consultancy on Automotive Parts Industry Research

Research consultancy on socially responsible labour practices in the automotive parts supply chain in Thailand

The Responsible Supply Chains in Asia programme is calling for a consultant to conduct technical research on automotive industry supply chains in Thailand

The "Responsible Supply Chains in Asia" (RSCA) project (RAS/16/13/EUR) is a three year project conducted by the ILO and the OECD and funded by the EU. The project aims at contributing to an enhanced respect for human rights, labour and environmental standards by businesses engaged in supply chains in Asia including Thailand, in line with international instruments on CSR, RBC and Business and HR.

Call for Expression of Interest

Terms of Reference

Research Consultancy

Responsible Supply Chains in Asia Project

Research on socially responsible labour practices in the automotive supply chain in Thailand

The "Responsible Supply Chains in Asia" (RSCA) project (RAS/16/13/EUR) is a three year programme conducted by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and financed by the European Union (EU). The project aims to contribute to an enhanced respect for human rights, labour and environmental standards by businesses engaged in supply chains in Asia, including Thailand, in line with international instruments on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Responsible Business Conduct (RBC) and Business and Human Rights. This initiative is one of the expressions of the EU's long-standing commitment to promote human rights, decent work and sustainable development, a pledge underpinned by the EU Treaties and reinforced in the European Commission's trade policy strategy of 2015 "Trade for All". It falls in particular under the Commission's commitment to identify opportunities for responsible supply chain partnerships and the EU's strategic approach to responsible business conduct, which is based on internationally agreed principles and guidelines.

The specific objectives of the project in Thailand is to

1) Increase understanding and knowledge of employer and business membership organizations (EBMOs), workers organizations, domestic enterprises, Multinational Enterprises, investors, businesses, civil society organizations (CSOs) and policy makers on CSR/RBC from the perspective of decent work.

2) Create a policy environment conducive to promoting a socially responsible conduct among businesses.

3) Increase opportunities for businesses to have dialogue on challenges and opportunities in relation to CSR.

In Thailand, the project focuses on two sectors: agriculture and vehicle parts. Both sectors account for high numbers of workers and have important trade linkages to the EU.

Vehicle parts is a growing industry for the country. More than 2,400 enterprises produce automotive parts in Thailand, and they employ 450,000 workers. Many of them are tier 1 and tier 2 suppliers to larger buyers. These factories, some of which are subsidiaries of foreign MNEs, produce diverse components, from tires to structural components. The country represents an export hub in Southeast Asia, including for automotive components exports which were valued at US$13 billion in 2014.

Many businesses increasingly see that CSR/RBC can help them become more competitive and have better access to new markets. However, despite activities from the Government and other stakeholders, some Thai enterprises still see the benefits of CSR/RBC approaches mainly in terms of building goodwill and community trust and thereby link possible positive impact to the company’s image. As a result, CSR/RBC activities still need to be incorporated as part of the operational practices of the Thai businesses and avoid being confined to the spheres of philanthropy, charity and voluntary goodwill activities.

The study will focus on the supply chains in the vehicle parts sector (Standard International Trade Classification or SITC Code 784) in Thailand.1 The key objectives of this study are to:

1) Generate in-depth knowledge and map the supply chains of the automotive sector linked to Thailand to identify the tiers, characteristics of enterprises, relationship flow between brands to primary producers and build a baseline for further project intervention;

2) Document good labour practices in supply chain management and their contribution to the competitiveness and productivity of the supply chain;

3) identify decent work deficits and labour issues in the sector, and the ways in which they are addressed.

In sum, the study will help determine existing and potential linkages between MNEs and the local SMEs, good practices in their engagement, as well as challenges for fostering short- and medium-term opportunities to expand and deepen local supply chains that benefit both the MNEs and the local economy in terms of social and economic upgrading and job creation.

This research will be an exploratory and action-oriented study, meaning that the study will be the output of a broader process of engagement with the enterprises operating in the vehicle parts sector as well as ILO constituents (Ministry of Labour, Employers’ Confederation of Thailand and Workers’ Organizations) and other relevant actors in the sector. The study will be undertaken as technical inputs for organizing an evidence-based policy dialogue, guiding and implementing relevant capacity building activities in Thailand in the context of this project. At the same time, the discussion and fact-finding workshops organized under the project will provide inputs to complement and finalise the research.

The study will not involve a quantitative survey but rely on the review of the secondary information and qualitative information through interviews of value chain actors in each step of the value chain (with the focus on European and Japanese firms respectively), interviews of key informants (which should at least include representatives of workers, automotive related associations, academic centres on CSR/RBC, governmental agencies and the Thailand Automotive Institute) and focus groups of businesses in the vehicle parts sector. The assignment will contain the following tasks/outputs:

o An overview of CSR/ RBC in Thailand, including existing CSR/RBC institutional framework in general and specifically in the vehicle parts sector. This shall include sectoral initiatives in the sector such as sustainability programs in the automotive sector and international framework agreements. In the context of Thailand, it should include policies, programmes, guideline, tools, initiatives and practices of the governmental agencies,2 institutions related to investment,3 local enterprises (particularly any home-grown voluntary initiatives) and MNEs4 on promoting socially responsible labour practices (include labour CSR). In particular, the study shall identify key Thai and foreign MNEs’ policy and programmes in relation to labour CSR and economic/business linkages with the local economy, i.e. engagement with suppliers, good management practices, procurement policies (not philanthropic, charitable or community outreach activities).

o Overview of the Thai automotive and auto parts industry and its connections with the Global Supply Chains5 The overview should include, but not be limited to, global supply and demand of products, automotive trends (i.e. growth, development of new products), gross domestic product (GDP) and export data trends for the sector, global automakers, assemblers, component manufacturers and supporting industries, their commercial relations, and geographic distribution of the sector (by employment or production).

o Mapping of the automotive and auto parts supply chains in Thailand. The analysis should include the position of Thailand within the global supply chain, automotive trade and investment policy, infrastructure policy, labour supply and land acquisition, MNEs, main phases of the global supply chain(s), commercial and production relations between buyers and suppliers, mapping of key actors (private and public) and key stakeholders to be included in this project, existing informal relations/institutions between MNEs and suppliers, participation in the automotive global value chains.

o Assessment of the main decent work features in the vehicle parts sector in Thailand.6 The study will identify decent work deficits along with productivity bottlenecks and competitiveness challenges at each step of value chain. The study will compile employment and labour statistics and data on enterprise level labour practices based on principles of the MNE Declaration. This will be drawn from existing national statistics and existing related information. The assessment will be gender-responsive, generating sex disaggregated data related to employment of women in this sector and identifying where opportunities for job creation for women could be promoted. In addition, the study shall identify employment and labour challenges on the issues of workers education levels, conditions of employment (i.e. working time, wage, benefits, earnings, contract type), labour protection, fundamental rights at work, social security, security of employment, access to remedy and examination of grievances, settlement of industrial disputes, labour relations, gender equality at work, safety and health, ethical recruitment, employment promotion and training opportunities of workers in the vehicle parts sector etc.7 To the extent possible, the study will separate the labour challenges with MNEs and the local SMEs.

o Examples of good practices within the targeted sector on promoting socially responsible labour practices and addressing the decent work challenges identified in earlier chapter either by buyers, 1st - 3rd tier auto parts suppliers, employers’ and workers’ organizations or government agencies in Thailand. To document good practices, the consultant will use the principles of the ILO MNE Declaration as a reference. The study shall analyse the policies of automotive MNEs in Thailand on how they address the issues of decent work in their supply chains. Special attention shall be paid to the roles that MNEs could play in putting in practice socially responsible labour practices amongst the Thai and foreign MNEs and local SMEs and how these practices contribute to both economic and social upgrading i.e. how buyers have a role in influencing the behaviour of suppliers to better comply with the national and international standards of responsible labour practices. The good practices collected, together with policy environment, shall be analysed on how they helped addressed decent work challenges in the auto parts sector and how they have had an impact on the productivity/competitiveness of the company/supply chain. This is also expected to help build business cases and identify key drivers of change of the behaviour of the weakest parts of the supply chains.

o Policy recommendations to proactively engage in the promotion of decent work in the sector in collaboration with MNEs and SMEs operating in Thailand and in other countries (i.e. Sweden and Germany, United States and Japan), the government, employers’ and workers’ organizations, as well as CSOs. It will also analyse if a possible plan of action that lays out potential areas of joint action involving MNEs, export oriented SMEs enterprises in the global supply chains, employers’ and workers’ organizations, government, CSOs and other relevant institutions in the respective sector is necessary and match the plan of action with the existing national development and sectorial plans.

The work will be carried out between 12 September – 29 November 2019 with the following proposed plan.

Item No.


Tentative date

Estimated No. of days


Develop research methodology and strategy including annotated outline of the study with an indication of length of each chapter, a literature review, a list of key informants, questionnaires and/or interview questions, data collection process, and work plan with timeline. The outline will be consulted with the ILO and presented to the automotive task force and relevant stakeholders.

12-13 Sep



Conduct desk review and submit Draft 1 to the ILO for comments.

23-27 Sep



Revise the desk review, taking into account the ILO technical comments.

7-8 Oct



Based on the findings of the desk research, update the research strategy with questionnaires for stakeholders, suppliers and buyers, a list of key informants and a travel plan for meetings with enterprises and other major actors. Conduct interviews, supplemented by focus groups with companies and key informants.

9- 16 Oct



Produce research report and submit Draft 2 to the ILO

17-30 Oct



Prepare PowerPoint presentation and present the preliminary findings of the study at a validation workshop. Collect inputs from the stakeholders.

31 Oct – 1 Nov



Finalize and submit Draft 3 to the ILO for comments.

11-12 Nov



Submit the final research in Thai and English to the ILO.

20-26 Nov



Present the final study at an event of the project

29 Nov




The outputs of this research will be:

Research methodology and work plan (in English)

A final report (40 pages maximum, excluding annexes) (in Thai and in English)

A PowerPoint presentation that summarises the key findings, main results and recommendations of the report (in Thai and in English)

The agreement will run from 12 September – 29 November 2019.

The first payment will be paid upon completion of output 1 -3 to the satisfaction of the ILO (30% of payment).

The second payment will be paid upon completion of output 4-5 to the satisfaction of the ILO (50% of payment).

The final payment will be paid upon successful delivery of output 6-9 to the satisfaction of the ILO (20% of payment).

All data and information received from ILO for the purpose of this assignment are to be treated confidentially and are only to be used in connection with the execution of these Terms of Reference (TOR). All intellectual property rights arising from the execution of these ToR are assigned to the ILO. The contents of written materials obtained and used in this assignment may not be disclosed to any third parties without the expressed advance written authorization of the ILO.

The contract for this assignment will be issued by the ILO Office in Thailand. The Office space, equipment, other logistics arrangements in the course of the research as well as travel insurance will be organised and on the account of the consultant.

The consultant will coordinate and collaborate with researchers from Thailand Automotive Institute. The study will be conducted under the direct supervision of the National Project Coordinator, who will be liaising closely with the Enterprises Development Specialist and the Programme Manager in the ILO ROAP office in Bangkok. The Multinational Enterprises and Enterprises Engagement Unit in ILO Geneva will provide technical support, in close collaboration with the Decent Work Team in Bangkok and the ILO Office in Thailand.

This call for proposals would welcome those from an external collaborator or a team of experts who could jointly meet the following experience and skills to be able to perform the tasks of the TOR:

Knowledge and understanding of the broad range of ILO’s instruments/tools from the MNE Declaration and related labour standards to the decent work diagnostics, the value chain for decent work and the market systems (or M4P) approach.

Knowledge and experience working on RBC/CSR, analysing complex global supply chains in the key export-oriented sectors, especially the automotive sector.

Demonstrated experience in conducting economic and/or business assessment and sector reviews in Thailand (Value chains analysis) as well as analysis of decent work deficits/indicators and employment generation analysis of sectors and/or value chains.

Demonstrated ability to write analytical reports and present clearly in English and Thai.

Ability to liaise responsibly with senior officials of the government and social partners.

Experience working on research with the private sector is an advantage.

Profile of the external collaborator.

Advanced education (PhD or Masters) in development, economics, social science, business management, labour laws and policies or related field

Proven experience in conducting survey, research, data analysis and technical consultancy in socio –economic development.

National and international experiences in global production systems and/or manufacturing sectors in Thailand, including the automotive and auto parts sector.

Interested candidates should submit: 

Proposal, preferably 3 pages maximum, defining the planned methodology for undertaking research, and action plan and a time line.

An updated CV and detailed references for similar work undertaken by the candidates

Financial proposal (including potential travels within the country).

All proposals shall be submitted electronically to The proposal shall be submitted by 2nd September 2019 (by 16.30 Bangkok Time) with “Research on socially responsible labour practices in the automotive supply chain in Thailand” as the subject of the email.

All proposals will be evaluated on the following criteria:

Quality of technical proposal

Estimated cost of the study

Qualification of proposed consultant

The selection process will be competitive.  Only candidates with the qualifications and a complete proposal will be short listed and contacted. Only candidates with availability to work on this desk review during the specified time period are requested to apply.