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Field research study on the interrelation between subcontracting and recruitment practices in the Thai construction sector and human rights risks for migrant workers and their children

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: Baan Dek Foundation
: 3 Oct 2023
25 / October / 2023

ORGANISATION INFORMATION

Established in 2002, Baan Dek Foundation (BDF) is a not-for-profit, non-governmental organisation with the mission to provide access to essential education, health, and child protection services to disadvantaged children and families living in construction site camps. Through field projects and advocacy activities, BDF aims to improve access to services for the estimated 60,000 children connected to the construction sector in Thailand. BDF’s activities reach over 1,600 children and 10,000 workers in the construction sector per year.

 

BDF has extensively provided direct support to construction workers and their children in camps to access essential services, with most direct support taking place in Chiang Mai. Since the Building Social Impact (BSI) Initiative was launched in 2022, BDF has scaled up its efforts and advocated for systemic change in the Thai construction sector, encouraging the sector to better respect the rights of workers and their children. We develop key partnerships with major real estate developers and construction companies to support them in implementing changes in camps with training and a toolkit containing Guidelines and a Self-Assessment Tool. This strategy and the toolkit are based on the BSI Framework for Action, 12 recommendations for companies to implement improvements in 4 key areas, and access to services in construction site camps. 
 

PROJECT BACKGROUND

With funding and support from Kindernothilfe (KNH), a German child rights NGO active in Thailand, and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), BDF is implementing a 3.5-year project, entitled Building Social Impact in the Thai construction sector, to scale up the systemic impact work and the BSI Initiative. The project objective is that up to 14,000 migrant workers use the improved infrastructure in 36 construction camps and start to use public services for themselves and their children. The project area is the Bangkok Metropolitan Region.

 

The project has four key outputs 1) Camp managers and camp bosses from 12 construction companies apply the BSI Framework for Action and the related BSI Toolkit; 2) Relevant Thai Ministries create an enabling environment for integrating business and human rights principles in the construction sector‘s value chains; 3) Camp managers, camp bosses, camp residents, and the local service providers work together for the access to services for workers and children in the camps; 4) The voices of migrant workers and their children are incorporated into the BSI initiative.

 

Under Output 2, BDF has identified the need to address knowledge gaps concerning the construction sector’s labour supply chain and human rights implications for workers and their children. With a greater understanding of the nature of these risks, this research will support the Ministry of Justice in its mission of promoting corporate respect for human rights, particularly in the construction and real estate sector.

 

RESEARCH BACKGROUND

With the overall objective of ensuring that migrant workers and their children live in decent conditions in construction site camps and have effective and equitable access to key public services, it is necessary to develop a full understanding of the pathway of workers and children take to these camps and the barriers along the way. 

 

While there has been an abundance of quantitative and qualitative research on labour migration in Thailand over the past two decades, the highly fragmented construction sector has received limited attention. The fragmentation of the sector can be attributed to the extensive use of subcontracting which dilutes the responsibility of companies further up the value chain towards workers and their children and severely limits their control and influence over the recruitment of workers.

 

There is therefore a need for in-depth qualitative exploration of the human rights risks that face both workers and children in the Thai construction sector. Existing research products with a specific focus on construction in Thailand by the International Labour Organization (ILO) (High Rise, Low Pay, 2016), United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and BDF (Building Futures in Thailand, 2018) depict a sector with a high degree of informality; where workers, often with their children, live in temporary housing sites, move frequently, and lack awareness of their rights in Thailand. 
 

RESEARCH RATIONALE

As the practice of subcontracting limits both the visibility and control that construction contractors have over the conditions of workers and their accompanying children, it is necessary to understand the nature of human rights impacts on workers and their families brought about by the extensive levels of subcontracting and the informal recruitment pathways used to acquire labour.

 

As of 2023, as part of Thailand’s National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights, the Ministry of Justice is exploring the feasibility of introducing mandatory human rights due diligence legislation and the readiness of businesses to adapt to such legislation. Given these significant developments, there is an urgent need for the construction and property sector to fully understand the nature of human rights risks in their supply chain and implement effective mitigation strategies. Doing so would also support businesses in mitigating reputational risk and satisfy the growing expectations of both investors and clients for greater responsible business conduct.

 

RESEARCH OBJECTIVE

The research objective of the study is to increase the understanding of the interrelation between the subcontracting and recruitment practices and associated human rights risks, in particular child rights risks, in the construction and real estate sectors. With a greater understanding of the subcontracting and recruitment processes, and how workers, subcontractors and recruiters navigate these, especially when considering accompanying children, it is envisaged that the BSI Initiative will be in a better position to support BSI member companies, public stakeholders and the Thai construction and real estate sectors at large in identifying and addressing human rights risks in their labor supply chain. The study is limited to the following research questions
 

Research Questions 

  • What are the key characteristics of the labor subcontracting chain in the Thai construction sector in terms of the parties involved and the nature of their relationships?

  • How do subcontractors and/or employers navigate and manage the documentation of migrant workers and their accompanying families and their transfer from one project and/or employer to another?

  • What are the salient human rights risks to both migrant construction workers and their accompanying families, especially children, arising from their employment relationship with the subcontractors and/or employers?

  • To what extent are such risks acknowledged and/or addressed by the contracting parties? 

  • What barriers exist for contracting parties in addressing human rights risks in their subcontracting chains?

  • What is the recruitment pathway of migrant construction workers to employment under subcontractors and who are the actors involved?

  • To what extent do workers receive accurate information about the destination and how does this influence workers’ decision-making, especially in terms of bringing their children?

  • To what extent, if any, are there due diligence mechanisms related to ethical recruitment used by subcontractors?

  • What barriers exist for subcontractors in conducting due diligence in the recruitment process?


PROPOSED METHODOLOGY AND SCOPE OF RESEARCH

BDF is commissioning the study and is seeking a  university or research institute to conduct the research, including a short desk review related to the above research questions, field research design, methodology development of data collection tools, gaining ethical approval, data collection, data analysis, presentation of data to stakeholders (such as related Ministries, government agencies, construction companies, and non-governmental and civil society organisations (NGOs and CSOs) and writing of the report, including a validation workshop of the data presented with key stakeholders. 

 

In order to capture the experiences of workers and their accompanying families, subcontractors, and recruiters.  The study will be exploratory and qualitative, and as such will make use of in-depth interviews and key informant interviews with the target participants listed below. The precise composition and sampling of participants are provisional and subject to adaptation. 
 

RESEARCH PARTICIPANTS

Below are the intended participants for the study. Please note that the approximations of participants given are intended to support interested applicants in developing their financial proposals. It should be noted that the final composition of the interviewees is subject to change depending on the proposals submitted and discussions in the inception phase of the research. Participant selection should aim for representativeness in terms of small, medium and large companies

 

The research team is responsible for the recruitment and sampling of all research participants

In terms of participant recruitment, however, BDF may be able to support the successful candidate in establishing contacts with stakeholders from the construction sector. The sampling of workers and children should aim for equal representation in terms of gender and nationality where possible. 

  • Workers and accompanying children from Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos - at least 35 persons - meeting the below criteria

    • Male and female migrant workers who entered Thailand irregularly but have since registered through a cabinet resolution

    • Male and female migrant workers who entered Thailand irregularly and have been unable to register through a cabinet resolution

    • Male and female migrant workers who entered Thailand regularly but have since become irregular

    • Children accompanying the above groups 

  • Subcontractors (formal and informal) - at least 15 persons

  • Brokers - at least 10 persons

  • Construction companies, small, medium and large (ideally procurement/administrative staff) - at least 10 persons (1 person per company)

  • Thai Recruitment agencies (licensed and unlicensed) - at least  8 persons

  • One-Stop Service Centres - at least 5 persons

  • NGOs and CSOs - at least 5 persons

  • Relevant Government agencies related to immigration and labour protection - at least 5 persons

  •  

DELIVERABLES AND TIMEFRAME

Please note that the deliverables and the timeframe are subject to discussion in the inception phase.

Deliverable

Tentative timeframe

Proposed Payment Structure

Contract signing

07.11.2023

25%

Final approved version of the research protocol including

  • Research objective and purpose

  • Detailed research methodology

  • Participant recruitment, sampling methods and compensation

  • Data collection tools, including translated versions

  • Consent forms and participant information sheets

  • Risk assessment

  • Data confidentiality and participant privacy

  • Detailed work plan

  • Profiles of the research team including lead consultant, research assistants, interviewers, interpreters, note takers, analysts, report writer and editor and any training needed for data collection

  • Data analysis plan






 

29.11.2023

 

Sourcing of an external consultant for quality control check of research protocol completed

 

13.12.2023

 

Ethical approval of the research protocol 

 

23.02.2024


 

25%

Data collection completed

 

03.05.2024

 

Data cleaning, coding and analysis completed

 

05.06.2024

 

First draft of the report (approx. 60 pages) and research brief (approx. 4 pages)

 

03.07.2024

25%

Validation workshop (approx. 40 persons) with key stakeholders (government, civil society and private sector) of the key findings

 

29.07.2024

 

Final approved version of the report and research brief

28.08.2023

25%

 

ETHICS AND CHILD PROTECTION

Baan Dek Foundation is committed to ensuring that the rights of those participating in data collection or analysis are respected and protected, in accordance with BDF’s Child Safeguarding Policy. All applicants should include details in their proposal on how they will ensure a do no harm approach and child protection during the data collection process. In the Research Protocol, the research team should describe clearly how appropriate, safe, non-discriminatory participation of all stakeholders will be ensured and how special attention will be paid to the needs of children and other vulnerable groups

 

RESEARCHER/RESEARCH TEAM PROFILE

BDF is seeking a consultant associated with a university or research institute based in Bangkok and research team with the following qualifications

  • Minimum of a PhD in relevant social sciences, labour migration, human rights, child rights, anthropology, or a related field. 

  • At least ten years of experience leading field research with proven skills in qualitative methodology, including the development of data collection tools, use of qualitative analysis tools, experience coordinating and/or conducting interviews with vulnerable populations

  • Substantial knowledge of topics such as labour migration, ethical recruitment, migrant rights, and children’s rights is strongly preferred

  • Experience in analyzing qualitative data using software such as Nvivo, MAXQDA or other text data software

  • Excellent writing skills in English and team members with the ability to conduct transcribe and translate interviews in Thai, Khmer and Burmese 

  • Skilled at summarizing data and preparing written reports of findings in English 

 

PROPOSAL PROCESS

Interested consultants shall submit both (i) a technical proposal and (ii) a financial proposal. 

 

The technical proposal shall encompass: 

  • A detailed response to the Terms of Reference, including the following;

  • The consultant’s understanding of the research background, rationale and objectives, and proposed research methodology for (i) field data collection, (ii) analysis and (iii) interpretation. This will be subject to further discussion during the inception phase 

  • Proposed structure of the report and estimated number of pages

  • Critical issues for consideration for field research on human rights of irregular migrant construction workers such as ethics, language barriers, travel etc.

  • Ethics and child safeguarding approaches, including any identified risks and associated mitigation strategies

  • Proposed research team including their CVs and each a brief statement of why the proposed team member has relevant qualifications for the research

  • Proposed responsibilities and tasks of each team member 

  • At least 3 examples of previous field research work

  • Contact details of at least 3 references for the lead consultant

 

The financial proposal shall encompass: 

  • Daily rates (gross) for the lead consultant and team members in Thai Baht

  • Ethical approval fee

  • Research Protocol quality control fee

  • Out-of-work financial compensation for workers interviewed

  • Data collection costs including compensation for interviewers and interpreters (if not part of the core research team)

  • Travel and accommodation 

  • Research equipment and other inputs needed in order to conduct the research 

  • Data cleaning and analysis fee (if not conducted by the core research team)

  • Writing and editing fee (if not done by the core research team)

  • VAT if applicable

  • Any other costs necessary to undertake the assignment 

 

IMPORTANT

  • In line with donor requirements, all financial proposals should be printed, signed by hand, not e-signature, and then scanned and submitted as a PDF 

  • Applicants are required to address their financial proposals to:

Kids Home Development Network Foundation 

27 Moo 5, Soi 4, Chiang Mai-Doi Saket Road, San Phranet, San Sai, Chiang Mai 50210

Tel: +66 (0) 53-2222-11

Tax ID: 0993000105711

 

SUBMISSION OF PROPOSALS 

  • A technical and financial proposal, as stated above

  • Following the submission of the proposal, applicants will be invited for a short interview to assess their capacity to undertake the research

  • Applicants should submit their proposals in digital form, with the subject heading ‘BDF - P6694 Research Proposal’ to james@baandekfoundation.org and Thanadon@baandekfoundation.org.  

 

Deadline for submission

25.10.2023 no later than 23:59 Bangkok time.

 

Only short-listed consultants will be contacted and invited for the interviews the week of 30.10.2023. 

 

CONTACT

For any questions or feedback on this Request for Proposals, please contact the Research and Program Quality Coordinator, James Eckford at james@baandekfoundation.org and Senior Program Manager - Advocacy and Private Sector Engagement, Thanadon Chanthathadawong at Thanadon@baandekfoundation.org

Contact : james@baandekfoundation.org Thanadon@baandekfoundation.org

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