The ITF has welcomed the ‘strong recommendations’ for Thai government action over forced labour in fishing contained in a ruling adopted today by the governing body of the International Labour Organization (ILO).
The ruling, by a tripartite committee appointed by the ILO, is the response to the case submitted by the ITF and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) in February 2016 that the Thai government failed to implement and enforce the legal framework to protect Thai and migrant fishers and was therefore in breach of ILO convention 29 on forced labour.
In the following conclusions and recommendations, which the ITF particularly welcome as addressing specific concerns, the ILO:
- Urges the Thai government to work with governments in the migrant workers’ home countries to regulate the use of brokers in recruitment.
- ‘Expects’ the government urgently to ensure that officials complicit in human trafficking are prosecuted and that effective penalties are imposed.
- Requests the government to take measures to ensure that the widespread confiscation of identity documents by employers is prohibited by law, to investigate such abuses and to punish those responsible.
- Asks the government to strengthen the capacity of labour inspectors, provide more training on detecting forced labour, introduce random inspections and hire more inspectors able to speak migrants’ languages.
- ‘Notes with regret’ that the definition of forced labour in the Anti-Trafficking Act is still not as broad as in the convention relating to work exacted under the menace of any penalty, and would be unlikely to encompass the loss of rights or privileges or the use of financial penalties.
Johnny Hansen, chair of the ITF fisheries section, commented: “We are pleased that these strong recommendations for action by the Thai government address a number of the issues we raised.
“This focus on the national legal framework and enforcement is vital to achieve real change for the countless migrant fishers trapped into forced labour, trafficking, deplorable working conditions and physical abuse.”
“We recognise the progress made by the Thai government, but this ruling shows that it still has a long way to go. We urge the government to work with the social partners to achieve the meaningful change that fishers need. We also trust that Thailand will ratify and enforce the Forced Labour Protocol and Convention 188 on Work in Fishing at the earliest opportunity.”
Read more about the global unions’ ILO complaint.
Read the ILO ruling.