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20 Aug 2018

Anti-Slavery Intl., Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, CENTRAL, Environmental Justice Foundation, Human Rights and Development Foundation, Human Rights Watch, and others

Thailand: 28 NGOs call on Thai Govt. to reject attempts by the Natl. Fishing Association to derail ratification of ILO Convention No. 188, the Work in Fishing Convention

"Joint civil society statement concerning ratification of the Work in Fishing Convention, 2007 (No. 188)"

...We respectfully urge the Royal Thai Government and the Ministry of Labor to pursue a robust and ambitious approach to ensure ratification of C188 before the end of 2018.  Efforts to reject the C188 by the National Fishing Association of Thailand (NFAT) are sadly unsurprising given NFAT’s reneging on its previous promises to cooperate with the Royal Thai Government to eliminate human and labor rights abuses in the fishing industry. Specifically, we call on the Royal Thai Government to ensure the key provisions of the Convention are included in any final legislation that the Royal Thai Government adopts. 

We strongly recommend that protections be preserved that provide for decent working and living conditions for the fishers onboard vessels and social security protections. These provisions are vital in preventing workers from being exploited by unscrupulous employers who pay sub-minimum wages, refuse to ensure overtime is voluntary and compensated, and engage in debt bondage and forced labor. Ensuring fishers are included fully in the social security system is critical to protect them if they suffer an occupational accident or an illness. Furthermore, including these provisions will grant workers much needed statutory social security benefits. Other core principles that need to be maintained in the legislation include ensuring a minimum age for fishers, payment of minimum wages, and enforcing limits on working hours.  Current Thai labor law already restricts children under age 18 from working in dirty and dangerous work, in line with ILO Convention No. 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour, which Thailand has ratified. NFAT’s continuing demand for exemptions to the child labor laws in the abusive Thai fishing industry demonstrates shocking disregard for the safety of children. The Royal Thai Government should defend its principled stance and reject any proposals to allow 16-year-olds to work on fishing vessels under any circumstances...