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

  • Phnom Penh placed in two-week lockdown

    The government has decided to place Phnom Penh in lockdown for two weeks, effective April 14 midnight through April 28, as Cambodia continues to grapple with the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen no sign of subsiding. According to a directive signed by Prime Minister

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Hun Sen: Stay where you are, or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen warned that the two-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Kandal provincial town Takmao could be extended if people are not cooperative by staying home. “Now let me make this clear: stay in your home, village, and district and remain where

  • Businesses in capital told to get travel permit amid lockdown through One Window Service

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration has issued guidelines on how to get travel permission for priority groups during the lockdown of Phnom Penh, directing private institutions to apply through the municipality's One Window Service and limit their staff to a mere two per cent. In

  • Ministry names types of business permitted amid lockdown

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training singled out 11 types of business that are permitted to operate during the lockdown of Phnom Penh and Takmao town, which run through April 28. Those include (1) food-processing enterprises and slaughterhouses; (2) providers of public services such as firefighting, utility and

  • Culture ministry: Take Tuol Sleng photos down, or else

    The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has told Irish photographer Matt Loughrey to take down the photos of Khmer Rouge victims at Tuol Sleng Genocidal Museum which he allegedly colourised and altered to show them smiling. The ministry said Loughrey's work is unacceptable, affecting