On 28 October, amfori co-signed a letter to EU Vice-President (with responsibility for the trade portfolio) Valdis Dombrovkis. It addresses the possible re-initiation of negotiations with Thailand for a bi-lateral trade agreement.
Although it recognises the benefits that such an agreement would bring, it also raises serious concerns about the current level of human rights in the country. In particular, it notes that Thailand has not yet ratified ILO Convention 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise, and ILO Convention 98 on the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining.
It notes that, aside from the obvious restrictions on Thai workers, it also raises problems for EU companies facing responsibilities under human rights due diligence in their supply chains.
It therefore calls on the EU, should it decide to reinitiate negotiations, to require from Thailand in the pre-negotiation phase a clearly defined, enforceable and time-bound roadmap to:
- ratify ILO Conventions nos. 87 and 98
- reform the Labour Relations Act and the State Enterprise Labour Relations Act
- decriminalise defamation under both the Penal Code and Computer Crimes Act and enact legislation to ensure that workers are not subjected to criminal or civil liability for exercising rights to freedom of expression, and
- ensure that trade unions and worker organisations have a significant and meaningful role in monitoring the implementation of new laws
Stuart Newman, amfori Senior Legal Advisor – Trade & Customs, raised similar concerns (along with amfori’s position on sustainable trade) with the Thai Ambassador to the EU at a meeting on 28 October.
Signatories to the letter include Aldi Nord, Aldi Süd, Lidl, ETI, Finnwatch, Human Rights Watch, Oxfam, and the Seafood Working Group.
Stuart Newman, Senior Legal Advisor – Trade & Customs