Thai Fishing Slaves: Government Continues to Fail

Credit: Greenpeace

By The Maritime Executive 02-15-2016 11:32:56

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) have submitted a formal complaint against forced labor in the Thai fishing industry. 

The case against the government of Thailand has been made to the International Labour Organization (ILO) and relates to breaches of ILO Convention 29 on forced labor. Thailand signed the convention in 1969.

The two global union federations assert that despite the Thai government having taken a number of positive steps in recent years to repeal obsolete legislation and introduce new sector-specific laws, it continues to maintain a regulatory framework that allows for forced labor and human trafficking by Thai fishing vessel owners. It is also failing to ensure that systems are in place to allow the protections of the law to be enforced effectively.

Forced labor is achieved through physical violence, psychological pressure, deception and coercion in the recruitment process and retention of identity documents.

ITF general secretary Steve Cotton said: “The commercial fishing industry plays a vital part in the economy of Thailand. There is an apparent willingness from the Thai government to combat exploitation and abuse but the current, significant gaps in law and practice are leaving hundreds of thousands of fishers vulnerable to forced labor and trafficking – that’s Thai nationals and a huge amount of migrant workers.”

General secretary of the ITUC Sharan Burrow said: “Slavery is embedded in global supply chains. Workers and consumers need the security and protection of the rule of law. We call upon the Thai authorities and indeed all governments to act to end slavery, and multinational companies and suppliers to take responsibility for every corner of their supply chains.”

The ITF and ITUC are calling for a total overhaul of the laws and inspection regime related to the Thai fishing industry.