Laos moves to reform labour laws
Experts from line ministries, the Federation of Trade Unions, the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) gathered in Vientiane yesterday for three days of discussions on drafting amendments to the law.
“Aside from responding to the country’s socio-economic and political circumstances, we should think about our obligations to and engagements with the international community when structuring any law,” said Director General of the Department of Labour Management under the ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, Mr Phongsaysack Inthalath.
The Labour Law, which was first promulgated in 1994, was previously amended in 2006. In 2011, units within the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare began to draft a second law, which they called the Labour Management Law. The expectation was that this would be submitted for adoption by the National Assembly in the middle of last year.
But after employers, workers and the ILO made comments on the details and sought further clarification of the new law, the sub-committee responsible for drafting it had to make additional amendments. This meant the draft was not submitted in time for the NA session last December.
However, at the monthly government meeting held last March, it was decided not to create a new, separate labour law. Instead, the subcommittee was instructed to make amendments to the existing law and combine it with the new labour management law being planned.
The new management law was to have had 77 articles, but the draft of the amendments to the existing law has 134 articles.
According to Inthalath, most of the ILO comments relate to the topics in the treaties Laos is a party to. These include gender equality with regard to labour, child labour, and the tripartite cooperation between trade unions, employers and workers .
The three day-meeting aims to finalise the draft after the committee has reviewed it several times to ensure its content conforms to international conventions and labour trends.
“We believe that in order to enhance Laos’ competitiveness with other countries, and to reduce the labour-related hurdles that some countries use to prevent the import of certain goods, these amendments are very necessary,” Inthalath said.
“The international standards contained in the law will also encourage investment in Laos,” he added.
At the meeting, ILO expert Mr John Ritcotte advised participants to make the draft amendment as detailed and clear as possible.
“It is a lot easier to enforce a law when its provisions are clear,” he said. “Clear provisions in the law will also ease the resolution of disputes.”