Board of Trade joins with fishing groups to fight labor abuse

2Thailand’s Board of Trade has come on board with eight fishing and food processing associations representing hundreds of companies to oppose abuses within their industries under a Declaration of Intent to fight human trafficking and child and forced labor. Calling themselves the “Thai Fishery Producers Coalition,” the Board of Trade and the eight associations pledged this month to create a “Clear Fishery Industry” that practices transparency, fairness and is free of abuse.

Under the auspices of the Thai Ministry of Labor, the heads of the eight associations signed the “Declaration of Intent to jointly combat child labor forced labor and human trafficking in Fishing and related Industries.”

They include the Thai Frozen Foods Association, the Thai Food Processor’s Association, the Thai Tuna Industry Association, the Thai Shrimp Association, the National Fisheries Association of Thailand, the Thai Overseas Fisheries Association, and the Thai Fishmeal Producers Association.

The associations pledged to:

• Promote and support laborers to have decent work while upholding their dignity;
• Collaborate to combat child labor and eliminate forced labor to comply with the labor law and international labor standards;
• Provide greater support on labor protection in the areas of working conditions, working employment, and wage payment under the law, as well as promoting the quality of life and the dignity of employees.

In addition, the Labor Ministry has established a center to oversee fishing workers so that all fishing crews and owners of fishing boats are registered and fishing crews are hired with written contracts. This will allow the workers to realize their basic rights.

Thailand’s fishing and food processing industries have been under fire from labor activists and civil society groups for allegedly turning a blind eye to malpractices within their workplaces. Activists have accused some companies of using child workers, hiring laborers who are victims of human trafficking, refusing to pay workers and violating international and domestic labor standards and protections. The companies have denied knowingly engaging in wrongdoing. Nevertheless, Thailand’s government, chiefly through the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Labor and Commerce, have been pressuring industry leaders to address the issues and eliminate any abuses that are taking place.

Many workers in these industries are migrants from neighboring countries such as Myanmar and Cambodia. Some have entered Thailand illegally, or have been trafficked, as they are desperately searching for better jobs and economic opportunities.

In addressing these issues, the Thai government has made great efforts, including updating its law and regulations and strengthening their implementation and enforcement, while also encouraging involvement by stakeholders such as the private sector.

In September, the Ministry of Labor in conjunction with other ministries, organized a meeting of industry associations to develop and agree up on a set of good labor practices for their industries. The meeting produced the Good Labor Practices Guidelines for Primary Processing Workplaces in the Shrimp and Seafood Industry of Thailand. More than 300 companies participated in their development and signed on to adopt and implement them.



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