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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

More Than 415,000 Lao Workers Abroad Affecting Domestic Labor Market

This Week

Over 415,000 Lao workers are currently employed abroad, exacerbating a labor shortage in the country, as highlighted by Baykham Khattiya, Minister of Labor and Social Welfare (MOLSW) during the 7th ongoing Ordinary Session of the National Assembly on 13 June.

Baykham reported that a total of 203,161 Lao workers are currently working illegally in foreign countries, whereas 212,795 Lao workers are legally employed abroad. The legally employed workers collectively remit over USD 52 million each month, totaling more than USD 625 million annually.

Baykham noted that the increasing number of Lao laborers in foreign countries has notably exacerbated domestic labor shortages. She pointed out several contributing factors, such as low wages and a rising inflation rate that has depreciated the value of the Lao kip, prompting many Lao citizens to seek employment abroad.

According to her, the lowest pay should be at least LAK 3.8 million  (USD 174). The current minimum wage in Laos is set at LAK 1.6 million (about USD 73) in October 2023, up from LAK 1.3 million (USD 59).

While many businesses and companies in Laos are already paying above the minimum wage, with minimum salaries at  LAK 2.7 million (USD 123), Minister Baykham highlighted that these wages still do not align with the current economic situation, particularly in meeting daily needs due to the high cost of living. 

To properly manage Lao workers abroad, the labor ministry and Lao government are intensifying efforts to oversee Lao workers abroad through a structured approach aimed at safeguarding their rights and interests. 

This involves implementing a monitoring system and streamlined procedures for job placements overseas, establishing representative offices like embassies and consulates in host countries, and appointing local staff to manage Lao workers’ affairs.

Additionally, to encourage more workers in the country, Baykham said that the Lao government is enhancing labor conditions, promoting workforce development, and improving worker welfare. This involves training aligned with market demands, improving job announcements, issuing skill certificates, and ensuring compliance with labor and social security laws, with efforts underway to increase minimum wages.

Despite ongoing efforts, challenges persist as increasing numbers of Lao workers continue to seek employment abroad. 

Recently, the Thai Labor Department announced the arrest of over 26,000 undocumented workers from Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam during a week-long crackdown, part of a 120-day campaign. Among those arrested, 1,659 are from Laos. Some of these workers have been prosecuted and face penalties including fines, deportation, and a two-year ban from re-entering Thailand.

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