Call for labour law parity

Call for labour law parity

Academics have urged Asean leaders to improve labour protection laws to meet international standards.

They said stronger laws are needed to protect migrant workers from being abused when the Asean Economic Community (AEC) is launched by the Asean Community (AC) at the end of the year.

Speaking at a seminar on labour protection under the AEC, Sunee Chairos, the Law Reform Commission's vice-president, suggested Asean member countries roll out labour laws with the same standards.

This would help ensure migrant workers in their countries were treated fairly to a uniform standard, she said.

"The law has to be based on criteria of the International Labour Organisation (ILO)," Ms Sunee said. "No matter what country migrants work for, they must be fairly protected under the same law to prevent them being exploited by employers."

Boonwara Sumano, a research fellow from the Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI), said workers will circulate more freely in Asean when the community takes effect, as labour market barriers will come down.

Labour protection issues have never been raised collectively among Asean member countries. 

Ms Boonwara said Asean members have been trying to devise labour protection laws in accordance with regulations of the ILO such as working hours, wage, leave and compensation.

But the different social and economic structures of each country also affects legislation and the livelihoods of migrant workers, she said.

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