In November 2017, the Government of Thailand declared human rights as a national agenda for the years 2018-2019.
As part of this agenda, the Government prioritised regulatory and enforcement improvements in the fisheries sector with regards to fleet management, labour conditions in the fisheries sector and sustainability of marine resources. The fishery sector represents more than 200 billion baht in annual revenue (over 5.3 million Euros) for the country.
This year, the Thai Government established a Working Group on Labour Relations Promotion in Sea Fishing Operations with the aim of supporting workers participation in collective bargaining and joining organisations. It is comprised of representatives from both Thai and international organisations and NGOs. This can be considered a prelude towards the creation of a labour union in the spirit of ILO Convention on Freedom of Association.
The Working Group has proposed to establish at least 22 provincial networks of sea fisheries workers in every coastal province of Thailand, marking the first steps towards acknowledging an organisation of employees within the fisheries sector.
In addition, a mobile inspection team, named Flying Inspection Team (FIT), was set up to supervise and ensure the high quality of inspections at all 31 Port-in Port-out (PIPO) centres. To date, FIT’s inspections have led to around eight fishing vessels being denied port-out and one fishing vessel fined over 13,000 euros for logbook violation.
Most recently, Thailand became the first country in the Asia Pacific to ratify the instrument for the 2014 Protocol to Forced Labour Convention to reinforce the legal framework for combating all forms of forced labour.
amfori is actively involved in Thai food and seafood industry by promoting responsible recruitment of migrant workers and in supporting Thai companies. Additionally, amfori has organised training for producers to discuss current legislation regulating migrant workers’ recruitment and the effects of transparent recruitment practices on business relations with overseas markets.
Building on this work, a joint project with the Thai Ministry of Commerce represents a new stage in promoting better working conditions in Thailand and builds on amfori’s long-lasting engagement with the Thai business community and international organisations such as the International Labour Organization and International Organization for Migration.