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NEWS UPDATES 13 August 2010

Low wages in Laos

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Demand for labour is very high in Savannakhet province but there is a lack of interest in the jobs on offer, provincial authorities commented after a job fair was held .

Deputy Governor of Savannakhet province, Mr Khampheui Phanthachone said many Lao people are instead crossing the border to work in Thailand despite the risks of falling victim to labour abuse and human trafficking.

For example, a sugar company in Savannakhet province is hiring people to harvest sugar for a wage of (1.5 baht) per bundle of sugarcanes. An experienced person can earn about 25,000 kip (100 baht) per day.

Mr Khampheui said this wage is considered low as labourers can earn at least (200 baht) per day transplanting rice on either side of the border, or doing other manual labour in Thailand. Most of the companies in Savannaket justify their low wages by saying that Lao workers are unskilled,

but the Lao labourers say they cannot live on the wages the companies are offering. One of the main priorities for the future is to improve the skills of Lao workers so they meet the standards accepted by the companies, said Mr Khampheui. The national-level job fair held in Savannakhet province last weekend provided an opportunity for jobseekers and employers to meet and discuss employment. During the fair, unskilled workers were also able to apply to take part in training to enhance their skills.

Close to 20 companies and other business units attended the fair, announcing that they needed more than 16,400 labourers, according to Deputy Director of Savannakhet provincial Department of Labour and Social Welfare, Mr Day Chanxomphou.

More than 1,300 people from the province's 15 districts attended the fair, but only 617 of them registered as jobseekers with the authorities.

Of those registered, 422 people applied to work within the country and the rest applied to work abroad, particularly in Thailand.

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