The ITF has committed to build a democratic, representative union of fishers in Thailand through the Fishers’ Rights Network (FRN), which will campaign to improve the wages, working conditions and labour rights of all fishers in the Thai fishing industry.
- The elimination of debt bondage including passport, pink card, work permit, agent, broker or recruitment permit fees.
- Initial increase in the minimum wage to 12,000 THB (USD 375) per month.
- All fishers to be paid monthly, with bank book, ATM card and pin number in their possession (not retained by the owner or captain).
- All fishers to be provided with written contracts in their own language.
- Every fisher to have access to basic first aid training and access to a comprehensive medical kit on board each vessel.
- Every vessel to have an emergency medical procedure in place.
- Vessel Code of Conduct in place for all vessels operating in Thai waters.
- Amendment of Thai Labour Law to allow migrant workers to form and be active in their union.
- Thai Government to ratify ILO Conventions 87, 98 and 188.
The pervasive use of trafficked, slave, forced and bonded labour in the Thai fishing industry, together with dangerous working conditions, long hours, and a lack of legal protections for fishers has been well publicised and the source of international condemnation in recent years.
Despite the Thai Government reacting to this global scrutiny with an overhaul of monitoring and inspection frameworks and strengthening their national law, including increasing the penalties for infringing on fisher’s rights, the majority of fishers in Thailand are still vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.
Over the past 12 months the ITF has met with hundreds of fishers across Thailand, in the ports of Songkhla, Pattani, Ranong and Trat, to discuss and document their life onboard fishing vessels. These workers, mostly Burmese and Cambodian fishers, report that despite the actions of the US and EU governments and Thai labour law reform, little has changed for fishers, and labour and human rights abuses remain ingrained in the industry.
New force for fishers launched
On May 29th, 2018, the ITF Fishers Rights Network (FRN) ratified our constitution and bylaws in Songkhla, southern Thailand, publicly launching our fishers union.
Over the past year, the ITF has been organising and working with hundreds of migrant fishers, assisting them in fighting for their rights, and developing a solid network of leaders and activist fishers who can fight for changes in the industry.
We continue to work with other members in the labour movement in support of ratification of ILO Conventions 87 (Freedom of Association and the Right to Organise), 98 (Collective Bargaining) and 188 (Work in Fishing), continue to work for a raise in the minimum wage for fishers, improved health and safety protections, vessel codes of conduct, access to adequate medicine and first aid training, and significant improvements in working conditions of all fishers in Thailand and the region.
On May 1st, FRN opened our organising office in Ranong, and hundreds of fishers have joined the FRN union network since then. On the border of Myanmar, Ranong remains one of the most challenging organising environments with significant social and economic justice issues for migrant fishers, mostly from Myanmar.
Our Trat office opened officially on August 1st, and hundreds of fishers have organised to become a part of the FRN union network since then. With the office near the Cambodian border, we are able to work with Khmer fishers to assist them in understanding and exercising their labour rights.