Ratification of C188 step towards reform in Thai fishing industry

November 30, 2018

The International Transport Workers’ Federation welcomed the long-awaited announcement that the Thailand National Assembly today voted to approve the ratification of the International Labor Organization convention which protects fishers’ rights.

“We applaud the Thai government for taking this significant step towards reforming the Thai fishing industry and look forward to the ratification of C188 and the effective enforcement of the convention’s provisions to protect fishers’ rights,” said Johnny Hansen, Chair of the ITF Fisheries Section.

“We look forward to the opportunity to review and provide input on the legislation to ensure that the rights of all fishers, irrespective of their nationality, are protected, and that all social partners are involved in appropriate tripartite consultations regarding the convention.

“The ITF’s efforts to build a democratic trade union for fishers in Thailand has yielded results and raised significant issues regarding fishers’ rights.”

“In recognition of that work, the Fishers’ Rights Network has just been chosen as Vice Chair of the Steering Committee for the ILO Southeast Asian Forum to End Trafficking in Persons and Forced Labour of Fishers (“the SEA Forum for Fishers”),” said Hansen.

The fishing industry in Thailand has received international condemnation in recent years for the pervasive use of trafficked, slave, forced and bonded labour, as well as dangerous working conditions, long hours, and a lack of legal protection for fishers.

There has been substantial pressure from other countries involved in the fishing industry supply chain, as well as labour groups including the ITF, European Transport Workers’ Federation, and the Thailand-based Fishers Rights Network (FRN), for the Thai government to ratify C188.

“However, fishers still face many issues, including low wages, document retention, lack of effective health and safety provisions onboard, high identity document costs, debt bondage, and poor working conditions,” Hansen added.

“In addition, Thai labour law still prohibits migrant workers from legally organising, effectively denying migrant fishers the opportunity to exercise their right to freedom of association and collective bargaining.

“ITF’s Fishers Rights Network organising efforts will continue in the region until all fishers are covered by collective bargaining and supply chain agreements that protect and enhance their rights,” said Hansen.