The workshop was led by MWRN with the assistance of the Thai Union human resources team. During the workshop, new committee members explored work-related rules and regulations, labor laws and the roles and responsibilities of a welfare committee in the workplace.
Dr. Darian McBain, group director for sustainable development commented on the significance of the working committee and said: “To ensure the committee is an effective mechanism to improve communication between employees and Thai Union management, it is important to provide time for training and strategy planning.”
The workshop also focused on how to constructively build relationships between employees and employers to reduce the possibility of conflict and enhance workplace dialogue. The workshop provided an informal opportunity to formulate the committee’s new work plan and discuss requests for support and capacity building to ensure efficient results can be achieved.
The welfare committee was elected in April 2016, following assistance and advice from MWRN to organize the election campaign for Thai Union operating company’s 12,297 employees in Mahachai. Sixty-three employees stood as candidates for election, representing both Thai and migrant employees.
The committee, required under Thai Labor Protection law, will have an enhanced role to provide consultations and opinions about welfare issues that are beneficial to the company and its employees. The committee will also monitor, control and take care of the provision of welfare from employers for employees and generally will be encouraged to work to enhance social dialogue opportunities between the company and its employees. The committee consists of 11 migrant workers and eight Thai workers. Thai Union and the welfare committee will receive ongoing support and supervision from MWRN.
Andy Hall, international affairs advisor to MWRN, said: “MWRN’s mapping of Thai Union’s key export facilities in Thailand during early 2016 highlighted many positive practices of the company but also revealed a number of significant challenges remaining. MWRN is encouraged by the timely response of Thai Union to concerns MWRN raised regarding challenged social dialogue in the workplace and the commitment then given by the company that this situation be addressed both for the benefit of the company and its employees through ensuring empowered welfare committees in all Thai Union workplaces.”
Dr. McBain added, “We are confident welfare committees will enhance labor rights protection in Thai Union facilities and increase opportunities to engage in social dialogue, providing a safe platform where our employees can raise any concerns they may have. The committee will also ensure that Thai Union is aware of any specific needs our employees may have, which could influence any future policy decisions we make.”
Hall concluded, “These developments concerning enhanced social dialogue in Thai Union’s workplaces show the company is seeking to more effectively fulfill its duty to ensure opportunities for collective bargaining and freedom of association for all its employees across Thailand. This is a much welcome model for sustainable change.”