Thailand voted to ratify the International Labour Organization (ILO) Work in Fishing Convention (C188) on 29 December 2018, following years of campaigning from the ITF and other labour rights organisations following the ILO’s adoption of the Convention in 2007. Thailand’s official ratification in January this year made it the first Asian country to ratify the Convention.
Thailand’s ratification of C188, which sets the standards for working conditions on fishing vessels, was welcomed as an important step towards eliminating labour abuses in a supply chain that had been exposed for systematic illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing practices, and pervasive labour and human rights abuses.
But the Thai government has yet to effectively implement and enforce the provisions of the Convention that protect fishers’ rights on board vessels, including binding requirements on “occupational safety and health, medical care at sea and ashore, rest periods, written work agreements, and social security protection.”
The ITF Fisheries Section Committee, meeting in Oslo today, called on the Thai government to introduce stronger inspection and enforcement provisions, and enact these into national legislation to protect decent working and living conditions for fishers on board fishing vessels.
The Committee also agreed that efforts to improve working conditions in Thailand cannot stop here. The Thai Government must allow migrant workers join and form their own independent and democratic trade unions and take further steps to ratify ILO Conventions 87 and 98 on freedom of association and collective bargaining, which are essential to protecting all workers, including migrants, in Thailand.
“All workers, regardless of where they come from or what immigration status they have, should have the right to form unions and collectively bargain. The right to form unions is an enabling right that makes it possible to promote and realise decent conditions at work in the fishing sector,” said Johnny Hansen, ITF Fisheries Section chair.
“Until Conventions C87, C98 and C188 are ratified, legislated into national law, implemented and effectively enforced, fishers will remain vulnerable to abuse, including forced labour,” he said.
These measures will compel seafood companies to respect workers’ rights to freedom of association and to collectively bargain over their wages, benefits and working conditions, and implement changes throughout their supply chains in line with the labour and environmental standards that consumers and markets demand.
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