More than 1,200 migrant fishers have signed a petition calling on the Thai Government to effectively implement and enforce ILO Convention 188, which Thailand ratified in January 2019.
Leaders from the ITF Fishers Rights Network formally presented the petition to The Permanent Secretary of Labor at the ILO Ship to Shore Rights Project Steering Committee meeting today (22nd November 2019).
Thailand ratified C188, the ILO Work in Fishing Convention, in early 2019 to send a message to the international community that it was serious about combatting exploitation and trafficking in the fishing industry, and to complement its efforts to stamp out IUU fishing.
Johnny Hansen, chair of the ITF Fisheries Section challenged the Thai Government commitment to eliminating exploitation in the industry: “Fishers Rights Network (FRN) has consistently found instances of forced labor, debt bondage, high documents fees, fishers paid less than minimum wage, boats that lack clean water and adequate food supplies, and unsafe working conditions.
“The Thai Government has passed regulations to address these problems, but implementation has been poor. It’s clear that Thailand still has a long way to go to effectively implement and enforce the C188 provisions. Fishers are still suffering exploitation and labor abuse that cannot be tolerated,” Hansen said.
Despite the Thai Government’s efforts to ensure all fishers are paid through an e-payment system, many employers transfer and withdraw the wages themselves and continue to pay fishers in cash. Transfer statements are then used as proof of payment, effectively circumventing the regulation.
“Even though migrant workers still don’t have the legal right to organize in Thailand, Fishers are standing together to protect their rights and eliminate unsafe working conditions by forming the FRN, and the ITF is proud to stand in solidarity with them in their fight for justice for all fishers,” said Hansen.