In response to global market demand, companies have to incorporate social responsibility into their business and in line with the International Labour Organisation (ILO)'s Decent Work agenda involving responsibility for workers in the field of human rights, quality of life and workforce development.
The Department of Fisheries (DOF), Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, has partnered with several sectors to drive measures to protect workers in the fisheries industry based on all aspects of the Decent Work concept. In so-doing fisheries workers will have opportunities to improve their quality of life, employment and working conditions. The practice will give Thailand's fishery industry a good image and create sustainability and stability of Thai seafood products in international markets.
With special care for workers in marine shrimp and related processing industries, the joint efforts between the Department of Fisheries, Department of Labour Protection and Welfare (DLPW), and other network partners developed the Good Labour Practices (GLP) Guidelines for Marine Shrimp Farms in Thailand. The essence of the guidelines is based on Thailand's labour laws and international labour standards, as well as good practice principles that operators should adhere to.
Checklists were created for operators/employers of shrimp farms in Thailand to achieve a certain scope for good labour practices:
1. Employer checklist to prevent forced labour: Employers must understand what constitutes forced labour. In case of employing migrant workers, make sure they are not subject to illegal labour conditions, and treat them as equal to Thai workers and in line with international labour standards.
2. Employer checklist to prevent child labour: Youths younger than 18 years of age cannot be hired. The age of potential employees is verified using both written document(s) and interviews with workers about their age.
3. Employer checklist concerning freedom of association, collective bargaining and workplace cooperation: Workers must be free to associate, organise and represent their interest vis-à-vis the employers and to freely discuss matters concerning their working conditions, entitlements and rights.
4. Employer checklist for discrimination: Employers must apply the principle of Equal Working Conditions for All. Workers must not be treated differently based on their race, nationality, religion, political opinion or sex. Instead, decisions regarding workers are based on their qualifications and experience.
5. Employer checklist for wages, compensation and working time: Workers need to be paid according to minimum wage, with a premium for overtime hours worked. Wages need to be paid regularly and directly to the workers. Regular and overtime hours must be within legal limits.
6. Employer checklist for occupational safety, health and welfare (OSH): While ensuring compliance with OSH requirements is mainly the responsibility of the employer, workers also have a key role in keeping the workplace safe and ensuring that appropriate safety and health measures are taken.
The aforementioned checklist set is a tool to help employers verify that their workers are treated legitimately. The GLP Guidelines for Marine Shrimp Farms in Thailand also helps entrepreneurs to improve the working environment, to enhance safety, health and wellbeing of labour. All this is designed to create a good image of made-in-Thailand products and strengthen the country's trade competitiveness in general.
In fiscal year 2016, the DOF and DLPW have jointly conducted ten (10) batches of seminar entitled; 'GLP Guidelines to Strengthen Entrepreneurs in Shrimp Farms'. The seminars were participated in by 387 entrepreneurs and 104 DOF officials from 16 provinces -- Songkhla, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Surat Thani, Rayong, Chon Buri, Chanthaburi, Trat, Chachoengsao, Trang, Satun, Krabi, Phuket, Phangnga, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chumphon, and Ranong.
The seminar achieved its objectives to enhance knowledge and create understanding on the GLP Guidelines for Marine Shrimp Farms. It is also being platforms for shrimp farmers and stakeholders in the shrimp industry to exchange view and make their preparedness to apply the GLP guidelines in shrimp farms throughout Thailand from now on.