The Thai government has committed to ensuring acceptable living and working conditions for those in the fishing industry after it ratified the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Work in Fishing Convention, said an announcement from the global body on Wednesday.
The Work in Fishing Convention sets out binding requirements relating to work on board fishing vessels, including occupational health and safety, medical care at sea and ashore, guaranteed rest periods, written work agreements and social security protection.
It also aims to ensure fishing vessels provide decent living conditions for those on board.
Thai Minister of Labour Adul Sangsingkeo said his government’s ratification of the convention reflected its commitment to ensuring working conditions in its domestic fishing industry met ILO standards.
“It underlines Thailand’s full commitment to raising the standards of labour protection for both Thai and migrant workers, and eliminating forced labour,” he said.
The ILO said the Thai fishing and seafood processing sectors together employed more than 600,000 workers in 2017, of whom 302,000 were registered migrant workers. The Thai fishing industry alone registered more than 57,000 migrant workers in 2017 on some 10,550 commercial fishing vessels.
Mom Sokcha, the programme director for rights group Legal Aid of Cambodia, told The Post on Thursday that the ratification of the Work in Fishing Convention was just the beginning of the Thai government’s efforts to protect those working in the industry.
“Even after the EU gave a yellow card to Thailand [over workers’ rights], we see that fishing workers still face problems, such as salary cuts or withheld pay, exploitation Thailand should focus on remedying,” he said.
Sokcha said Cambodian fishing workers in Thailand had told in direct interviews of violent assaults and being forced to work 12- to 14-hour shifts. Some reported being forced to take drugs so they could work at night.
Sokcha said that according to informal data, around 20,000 to 30,000 Cambodians work in the Thai fishing industry.
Dy The Hoya, programme officer at labour rights group Central, said Thailand had faced pressure from the EU and so recently its government created an office to provide legal protection for fishing workers.
“The EU [warned Thailand] that imposing [trade] penalties would cost the loss of about 40 per cent of seafood exports, so Thailand [passed] its Law on Fishing Industry."
“Under the law, Thailand requires fishing boats going into deep water to return ashore after 30 days. Thailand has a committee to monitor fishing boats before they leave on trips, and they check the number of people on the boats and the health of those on board,” he said.