Migrant workers' rights in the spotlight

Social security organisations in ASEAN countries will focus on the protection and rights of migrant workers ahead of ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) integration in 2015.

More than 100 delegates from 17 social security organisations in nine ASEAN member countries converged on Vientiane on Wednesday and Thursday for the 30th ASEAN Social Security Association (ASSA) Board Meeting.

Following the conclusion of the meeting on Thursday, Ministry Labour and Social Welfare Social Security Organisation Director General, Prasong Vongkhamchanh, said the Lao labour and social welfare sector had appointed a drafting team to formulate rules and regulations to manage migrant workers.

The team will operate under the oversight of the ASEAN Minister for Labour and Social Welfare to ensure the regulations are in keeping with the coming inception of the AEC.

Prasong said too many unskilled workers in ASEAN countries were still without insurance or any kind of protection.

"In Laos, we will ensure every government body and private organisation registers with the social security organisation for the sake of labourers' protection," he said.

The Lao Social Security Organisa­tion currently covers just 32 per cent of the national workforce and is actively trying to build its presence.

Prasong said some private organisations in Laos were attempting to avoid joining the Social Security Organisation.

This week's meeting also looked at health insurance, integration and problems faced in ASEAN countries in social security development.

"Through this two-day meeting, hosted by Laos, we have learnt a lot about the experience and best practice of ASEAN members in social security work plans and management," Prasong said.

The Lao Social Security Organisa­tion has been a member of ASSA since 2003 and has hosted the annual meeting three times.

Next year's meeting will be held in Malaysia while the Philippines will host the following year's.

Prasong said many participants had argued the need for twice-yearly meetings when necessary.

In the 10 years since it joined the ASSA, the Social Security Organisation has achieved successes in its administrative duties and has become a feature on the regional and international stage.

The ASSA was formed to provide a forum for member institutions to exchange views and experiences on social security issues.

Its members comprise social security institutions from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.