ILO urges Thai Govt. to improve efforts to protect migrant workers in fishing vessels following ITUC & ITF representation that Thailand is failing to observe the Forced Labour Convention

In a communication dated 12 February 2016, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) made a representation to the International Labour Organization (ILO) alleging non-observance by Thailand of the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29), ratified in 1969 and currently in force for Thailand.

In 20 March 2017, the ILO issued its report and recommendations -- the report and a related news story are linked below.

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Article
3 April 2017

Full text of ILO report: Representation alleging non-observance by Thailand of the Forced Labour Convention made by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF)

Author: International Labour Organization

20 Mar 2017

…The Committee encourages the Government to continue to pursue its efforts to combat trafficking in persons, particularly with regard to migrant workers in the fishing sector…

…[T]he Committee requests the Government to take the necessary measures to ensure that the confiscation of identity documents is prohibited by law, to investigate such abuses and to punish those responsible who are in breach of the law…

…[T]he Committee encourages the Government to continue to strengthen its efforts to address the non-payment of wages, including by taking prompt action to ensure the effective application in practice of the 2014 Ministerial Regulation. It requests the Government to ensure that employers face appropriate sanctions for the non-payment of wages, and to provide information on the concrete measures taken in this regard…

…[T]he Government to ensure that the Anti-Trafficking Act, as amended, is effectively applied and that the appropriate sanctions are imposed on perpetrators…

…[T]he Committee urges the Government to continue to strengthen its efforts, in consultation with employers’ and workers’ organizations to enhance the living and working conditions of fishers, including by ensuring the effective implementation of the 2016 Ministerial Regulation…

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Article
30 March 2017

Thailand accused of failing to stamp out murder and slavery in fishing industry

Author: Felicity Lawrence & Kate Hodal, Guardian (UK)

Thailand is failing to protect migrant workers on fishing trawlers from murder and starvation, with trafficking and forced labour still rampant despite new government legislation, according to a new report.

In an unusually critical ruling by the UN’s labour agency, the International Labour Organisation has urged the Thai government to remedy continued abuses on fishing vessels operating in Thai waters. It follows a formal complaint to the ILO by international trade unions last year, which highlighted evidence of migrant workers enduring 20-hour working days, physical abuse and non-payment of wages…

The evidence submitted to the ILO by the International Transport Federation (ITF) and the International Trade Union Conference (ITUC) catalogued various instances of forced labour and abuse on Thai fishing vessels, following a series of interviews with Thai and migrant workers conducted by the ITF in 2015…

Thailand’s $6.5bn (£5.2bn) seafood export industry…has suffered significantly following allegations of human rights and labour abuses, and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. In 2014, Thailand was downgraded in the US state department’s Trafficking in Persons report, which marks countries for their stance on slavery. In 2015, Thailand was given a “yellow card” warning by the EU to clean up or face a ban on EU imports.

The Thai government has introduced some reforms and new laws to address trafficking and forced labour, but the ILO report emphasises that not enough has been done. It points to gaps in the country’s legal framework and enforcement, in particular in the regulation of brokers who recruit workers, the prosecution of corrupt officials, and the effective inspection of vessels…

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