More work needs to be done to improve labour conditions in Thailand’s auto manufacturing: ILO | Manufacturing Asia
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More work needs to be done to improve labour conditions in Thailand’s auto manufacturing: ILO

Workers lacking training are paid less and have to work for longer hours.

Thailand’s automotive manufacturing sector should strengthen its commitment to decent work and responsible business to ensure sustainable growth of the industry currently serving as the backbone of the economy, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO).

In a recent report, ILO said the sector’s average employee scored 64 out of 100 in its Auto Worker Index (AWI), indicating that 64% of their needs to achieve decent work conditions were met. 

The index was based on eight indicators ranging from wages, social protection to worker representation. While the score signals working conditions are at a “reasonable” level, it also shows there is still plenty of room for improvement especially in closing the disparities between groups in the industry.

ILO said the sector excelled in terms of providing decent wages, higher than the national average, and social protection coverage to its employees. 

However, challenges in social dialogue, staff training and equal opportunity continue to undermine the success and sustainability of the sector, which contributes roughly 10% of Thailand’s national economic output and employs more than half a million workers.

ILO stressed the need for workers to have equal access to certified training courses to improve their skills and move up the career ladder. It found that manufacturing workers lacking training were often paid less and had to work for longer hours than their counterparts who enjoyed extensive training.

There is also an ongoing salary disparity between groups as migrants tend to receive less than their Thai peers, while the dynamics of payment and overtime compensation seem to differ among the two groups, according to the study. 

In terms of benefits, ILO said the manufacturing firms should raise awareness of the available maternity benefits available after the study found many migrant female workers are unaware and thus unable to avail of these perks.

There are also gaps in adopting the new global requirement for ‘human rights due diligence’  in the Thai automotive sector, it added.

On future trends, the report found that workers were generally satisfied with their jobs and have shown diverse career aspirations. 

"However, concerns surfaced regarding the potential disruptive impact of new technologies on labour and employment within the sector," ILO noted.

Some of the key recommendations in the study include: improvement of social dialogue, expanded quality employment opportunities, discussing discrimination in the workplace, and raising awareness and application of responsible business requirements.

"By working together to implement the recommended changes, stakeholders can build a more resilient supply chain that not only guarantees worker rights and productive enterprises, but also unlocks opportunities for industry growth in an ever-more competitive and socially conscious global marketplace,” said David Williams, manager of the ILO RISSC programme.

The report entitled “Decent work and responsible business practices in Thailand’s automotive manufacturing sector” was published as part of ILO’s Inclusive and Sustainable Supply Chains (RISSC) project in Thailand, which is supported by the Government of Japan. 

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