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Forced labour persists in the Thai fishing industry

Author: Emma Richards, Asian Correspondent, Published on: 24 January 2018

"Despite government commitments to reform the industry, forced labour and other rights abuses remain widespread in Thailand’s fishing fleets, a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report said Tuesday...The report [...] found migrant workers from neighbouring countries in Southeast Asia are often trafficked into fishing work, prevented from changing employers, not paid on time, and paid below the minimum wage.

The industry came under scrutiny after a 2014 report from the Guardian newspaper exposed the often violent and dehumanising environment many workers are forced to work in...The prawns they catch were then being sold in leading supermarkets around the world, including the top four global retailers: Walmart, Carrefour, Costco and Tesco.

In response to the Guardians report, the Thai government scrapped antiquated fishing laws and extended labour rights to workers on fishing vessels...

HRW found widespread shortcomings in the government’s implementation of the new regulations, as well as a resistance within the industry to comply...

...Thai labour law makes it difficult for migrant workers to assert their rights. Fishers’ fear of retaliation and abuse by boat captains and vessel owners is a major factor, but Thailand also restricts the rights of migrant workers to organise into labour unions to take collective action.

[Note: Business & Human Rights Resource Centre previously covered the 2014 Guardian report here, incl. comments from companies.]

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Related companies: Carrefour Costco Tesco Walmart