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New AIT, MMN Report on Migrant Labor in Special Economic Zones


Report on migrant labor in Mekong Region
Photo credit: IDRC/Panos, Kyoko Kusakabe & Carli Melo

The Asia Institute of Technology (AIT) and the Mekong Migration Network (MMN), along with Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) recently published a report on migrant labor in special economic zones (SEZs). Women, and particularly migrant women, are especially vulnerable to being exploited for their labor. The garment industry thrives in these SEZs. Its workforce is mostly made up of women, but they are concentrated in the lowest-paid positions.

The report is supported by four SEZ case studies conducted in Myanmar, Cambodia, and Thailand, while the study as a whole was conducted from 2016 to 2019. Four main themes emerged from the case studies and literature review: working conditions, labor organizing, skills development and recognition, and care work. Attention to these themes is required “in order to realise [sic] decent work for women migrant garment factory workers in Mekong SEZs”. The report further furnishes recommendations to national governments, regional bodies, and employers’ associations.

Documents (PDF):