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Thailand workers to get voice tech

According to a recent report, an innovative voice app called is currently being tested in factories in Thailand this month (March 2019), in a move to protect workers against exploitation.

The app’s goal is to enhance worker interviews during social audits – by increasing frequency, inclusivity, confidentiality and consistency of worker screening. The app allows questions in multiple languages to be asked through audio recordings, answered through a smartphone and saved on a server. The app’s testing is being backed by two global corporations.

The app aims to overcome obstacles to worker screening uncovered by the United Nations University Institute on Computing and Society (UNU-CS) and anti-slavery NGO the Mekong Club, who surveyed over 170 anti-trafficking workers and over 200 social auditors.

For example, 71 per cent of the auditors surveyed stated that they select workers for screening based on language capability, and an overwhelming majority (95 per cent) stated that they speak one or two languages at most, meaning they often cannot reach out to migrants who speak another language.

The same study uncovered that workers are often interviewed in groups or near their managers and supervisors, so they will not talk to strangers and share their stories for fear of being punished.

The field research found that workers look forward to and support a mobile app like this is factories where no one can hear the personal answers, or track the answers back to the employees since the data collected by the app is anonymous.

The programme director at an NGO aimed at uniting and mobilising the private sector to disrupt and end modern slavery noted that the app offers a time- and cost-effective way to interview workers.

It was noted that the NGO is eager to test the app in the field and gather both social auditors’ and workers’ feedback to further advance this solution.

The principal research fellow at a research institute noted that the app is a simple, yet effective way to empower workers to communicate with auditors. While the institute does not aim to replace in-person interviews, but rather offer an additional tool to help make these interviews more thorough.

The app is also currently being tested in Vietnam and China by four major companies.

Results from the pilot project will be shared once the test phase of the project concludes at the end of March 2019.

Thailand 4.0

One of the objectives the Policy is promoting social well-being by creating a society that moves forward without leaving anyone behind (inclusive society) through the realisation of the full potential of all members of society.

A publication by the Thailand Board of Investment states that the key to Thailand 4.0’s success lies in improving human resources by drastically reforming and improving the education system.

This transformation strategy also requires the creation of new, dynamic education systems designed to produce specific workers for specific roles; the encouragement of creativity, innovation, critical thinking, entrepreneurship, sustainability and inclusiveness; ramping up digitalization and automation; and putting into place the necessary infrastructure demanded by these advancements.

The publication notes that another area that needs to be addressed is the lack of adequate protections for informal and migrant workers, which will require that unsustainable employment practices and rights abuses come to an end.

 As Thailand has among the highest income inequality in Asia, reducing the gaps 3 between socioeconomically advantaged and disadvantaged groups will also be crucial if the Kingdom is to leave no one behind on its path to become a high-income country

It is with this particular goal that the aforementioned app can help by promoting the safety and security of workers.

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