Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Network created to stop fishing abuse

Network created to stop fishing abuse

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Trafficked fishermen arrive at Phnom Penh International Airport in 2014 after they were rescued from Thai fishing boats.

Network created to stop fishing abuse

A newly created independent network was launched on Wednesday in Thailand to combat the abuse and exploitation of fishermen, most of whom are Cambodian and Myanmar migrants.

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), which launched the Fishers’ Rights Network (FRN), said that it had the support of 37 unions and federations in the region, the US, the UK and Australia.

An announcement obtained by The Post said the FRN is building its organisation capacity and alliances with industry stakeholders across the country and around the world.

“FRN has vowed to campaign until the fundamental labour rights of all fishermen in Thailand, including the right to form, join and be active in their union, are respected,” the announcement read.

It added that the FRN will fight to improve wages, conditions, and ensure the rights of all fishermen in the industry are respected.

Johnny Hansen, chair of the ITF Fisheries Section, said in a press release that the FRN’s launching showed fishermen are beginning to stand up for their labour and human rights.

ITF said it had been working on the ground with hundreds of migrant fishermen from Cambodia and Myanmar.

It found a pervasive use of trafficked, forced and bonded labour in the Thai fishing industry, and dangerous working conditions, long hours and a lack of legal protection for them.

These, it said, had been well reported and publicised, with many in the international community condemning the fishermen’s treatment. However, the conditions have slightly improved due to global pressure and Thai labour law reforms.

“This exploitation has been exposed for years. The EU and US governments have both denounced and penalised the Thai government for its repeated failure to stamp out illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing,” the ITF said.

Hansen said that the widespread exploitation of fishermen and the conditions they are forced to endure are “inhumane” compared to international labour standards.

Thailand’s government received a “yellow card” from the European Union (EU) for abusing the rights of fishermen and workers in the seafood industry.

If it fails to sufficiently improve the industry, the country will receive a red card, resulting in the prohibition of seafood exports to the EU.

The FRN is demanding an increase in wages and improvements to the working conditions of all fishermen in the Thai fishing industry. It is also seeking “the elimination of passport, pink card, work permit, agent, broker and recruitment fees”.

The president of the Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia (BWTUC), Sok Kin, who supports the FRN, said it already has a network and will make reports for intervention when fishermen experience abuse and exploitation by employers.

“The employers do not respect their rights and also restrict the freedom of expression of fishermen by not allowing them to make a complaint to the authorities. FRN will help with legal support, including the provision of lawyers,” he said.

Luke Menzies, manager of media and communications for ITF Asia Pacific, said there are “approximately 600,000 fishermen in Thailand”, with the “migrants predominantly from Cambodia and Myanmar”.

MOST VIEWED

  • PM: Armed uprising to be destroyed immediately

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday said if an armed group were to rise up as announced by Sam Rainsy, the “acting president” of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), they would be destroyed immediately. Hun Sen said Rainsy’s announcement of having

  • Sihanoukville to begin road project

    The government will spend $200 million to improve Sihanoukville’s infrastructure. The eight-month project will involve the rebuilding of 34 streets with a total of more than 84km. Pal Chandara, the secretary of state and spokesman for the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, told The Post

  • Artefact is seized from American auctioneers

    Cambodian and US archaeologists on Thursday discussed the formalities and procedures of returning to Cambodia an artefact which was recently seized by US Homeland Security Investigators (HSI) from an auction house in San Francisco. On Monday, the HSI said US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE),

  • Bodhisattva statue unearthed

    The Apsara National Authority technical team uncovered a sandstone statue of a Bodhisattva while carrying out excavation work at the east entrance of the Ta Nei temple on October 8. The team was trying to find the temple’s roof stone, which had fallen into a