THAILAND : A survey performed by the United Nations intended to assess working conditions in the fishing and seafood industry in Thailand reveals a mix of progress and remaining challenges, according to the data provided by the workers surveyed.
The research, conducted by the ILO Ship to Shore Rights Project and funded by the European Union, states that there have been fewer reports of physical violence and that there are few workers (less than one per cent) under 18 years old.
In addition, the Project has found that 43 per cent of the fishers reported having written contracts from four years ago and that there are higher average real monthly wages (before deductions) for some fishers.
On the other hand, the report points out that 34 per cent of the workers reported being paid less than the minimum wage (before deductions) and that there is a wide gender pay gap with 52 per cent of women reporting pay below the legal minimum.
Further challenges the Thai fishing industry features is the fact that 24 per cent of fishers saw their pay withheld by vessel owners, some for 12 or more months and that 34 per cent reportedly did not have access to their identity documents.
The survey includes the result of interviews conducted in 2017 with 434 workers —predominantly migrant workers— from a mix of large and smaller employers across 11 provinces from Thailand. It covers recruitment practices, wages, hours, safety and health, support services, complaint mechanisms, living conditions, forced labour indicators, and legal compliance levels.
The ILO report concludes with specific recommendations for the Royal Thai Government, employer organizations, unions, civil society organizations, and global seafood buyers designed to turn recent and promised changes in Thai law into effective enforcement actions and an industry moving towards decent work.
For his part, Jarin Jakkaphak, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Labour stated that “the baseline research on fishers and seafood workers is a collective efforts from all partners to drive and measure progress to raise living and labour standards in the fishing and seafood sectors in line with international standards and achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 8.”
In his view, it will also contribute to achieving decent work, economic growth, and sustainable development without leaving ‘No one behind.’ Ethical global supply chains that is just and based on decent work is the essential centrepiece of sustainability and key policy of the Royal Thai Government.
Meanwhile, Luisa Ragher, Chargé d’Affaires a.i. of the EU Delegation to Thailand, stated that “the EU adheres to the promotion of decent work covering job creation, guarantee of workers' rights, social protection and an inclusive social dialogue.”
Ragher highlighted that the EU welcomes the substantive and rapid progress accomplished by the Royal Thai Government, in particular on the legal and regulatory framework, to create better working conditions in the fisheries and seafood sectors for migrant and Thai workers alike.
Nevertheless, she added further challenges remain and the EU stands ready to assist the Government in achieving its objectives.