A better standard and quality of life for workers in Thailand’s shrimp industry

For over eight years, the Thai Frozen Food Association, membership of which includes enterprises involved in seafood processing for export, has played an important role in the implementation of Good Labour Practices (GLP) guidelines through its support and cooperation with the government sector in preparing regulations. The association created its own labour policy for enterprise members to properly implement and oversees the production chain to operate lawfully in line with other government regulations. Labour is an asset. Happy workers who have a good quality of life give a better performance. In the area of labour standards, enterprises involved in seafood processing for export operate in strict compliance with labour laws and Thailand’s Labour Standard, as well as other standards required by customers, such as SA 8000, ETI, and GLP. In addition, the plants focus on ethics and fairness in both Thai and migrant workers. They take care of all workers equally in all aspects, including living conditions, wages and welfare. Migrant workers in general seem satisfied with their quality of life. Whether Thai or migrant, all workers are treated equally. Most factories pay wages above the legal minimum, plus overtime and other fringe benefits such as working uniforms and boots. Transportation, accommodation, meals, and activities to celebrate festivals of Thai and other cultures attached to the migrants’ homelands are also provided for free or subsidised. Foreign workers are entitled to take home leave for extended periods of time. Some factories provide an interpreter so that workers can communicate easily while all essential documents are drawn up in a language that all parties comprehend. Another important element is the provision of welfare committees comprising both Thai and migrant workers. The committees represent all employees in discussions and negotiations with employers. Complaints boxes are also provided. The Thai Frozen Food Association, in collaboration between its members and various NGOs, organise activities to promote the quality of life for workers in many areas, including allocation of scholarships to children of Thai and migrant workers, religious and traditional activities, and social events such as to celebrate Mother’s Day, Children’s Day and Labour Day. To provide educational opportunities to children of Burmese migrants, the collaboration hires teachers who can communicate in Burmese to teach them. It is time for the seafood industry to recognise the importance of labour. Entrepreneurs throughout the chain must operate in compliance with labour laws, rules and ethical standards. This is an effort to enhance consumer confidence towards the quality of fishery products from Thailand and will sustain the Thai fishery industry in the long run. The industry now fully recognises that ethical treatment of workers leads to many benefits -- happy industry chain partners, happy life productive workers, high quality products, and successful and sustainable business. written by : Bangkok Post source : https://www4.fisheries.go.th/index.php/dof/activity_item/547/all_activity2/7
Administrator 2016-09-06

Development of good labour practice

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. written by Bangkok Post Source : https://www4.fisheries.go.th/index.php/dof/activity_item/457
Administrator 2016-08-03

GLP training programmes for the better of fishery industries in Thailand

The Department of Fisheries, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, has taken measures to prevent and eliminate child labour, forced labour, slave labour and illegal migrant workers in shrimp and seafood industry of Thailand. The fishery industries have played a vital role to Thailand’s economy, with the annual export value at 270,000 million baht and over one million workers throughout the industry’s production chain. Responding to the concept of “decent work”, Good Labour Practices (GLP) guidelines for seafood processing factories and primary processing workplaces were developed. The guidelines encompass Core Labour Standards; Forced Labour, Child Labour, Freedom of Association, Collective Bargaining and Workplace Cooperation and Discrimination (Equal Employment Opportunities and Treatment). Whilst working conditions herein covers Work Contracts, Wages, Compensation and Work Time, Occupational Safety and Health, and Work Environment and Worker Welfare. Following the guidelines, the department has created the campaigns to raise awareness and to adjust attitude among operators/entrepreneurs towards treatment of employees which will benefit to both Thai and migrant workers. Should operators/entrepreneurs follow the guidelines properly; the industries will be free from labour issues and unsafe working environments and human trafficking will also be completely eliminated. In terms of raising GLP awareness, the department has organised a training workshops for operators/entrepreneurs on “Good Labour Practices for Seafood Processing Factories and Primary Processing Workplaces”. The training course comprised lectures and team learning activities. In fiscal year 2015, the department trained 56 participants from 52 primary seafood primary processing workplaces and 97 participants from 59 seafood processing factories, located in Samut Sakhon, Samut Songkhram, Nakhon Pathom, Samut Prakan, Ratchaburi, Ranong, Surat Thani, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Chumphon, and Phuket provinces. In fiscal year 2016, during November-December 2015, four GLP workshops were conducted, with 23 participants from 15 primary seafood primary processing workplaces and 135 participants from 75 seafood processing factories, located in Samut Sakhon, Samut Songkhram, Nakhon Pathom, Samut Prakan, Ratchaburi, Chachoengsao, Chon Buri, and Rayong, joined in these 4 workshops. Besides knowledge, the training programme raises awareness and enables effective implementation of the GLP guidelines in the industries. The campaign aims to have operators willingly embrace the GLP guidelines in order to prevent malpractices and to sustainably promote decent working conditions in the industries. This will lead to a positive impact on the quality of fishery products from Thailand and reassure consumers that they are ethically produced in compliance with the proper labour standards. written by Bangkok Post Source : https://www4.fisheries.go.th/index.php/dof/activity_item/416
Administrator 2016-07-08

Thailand heightens law enforcement to combat IUU fishing and illegal labour practices in overseas fishing activities

Regarding the progress made in law enforcement to combat IUU fishing and illegal labour practices in overseas fishing activities, the Thai authorities take decisive actions to bolster law enforcement against illegal fishing and labour practices in the fishing industry. Four new measures are introduced to prevent fishing and labour-related offences involving overseas fishing operations by Thai-flagged vessels.   1. A temporary ban on at-sea transshipment of aquatic animals The Department of Fisheries prohibits Thai-flagged vessels from engaging in any transshipment of aquatic animals at any sea outside Thai waters for a period of 180 days. Exception to the ban is made only in cases where the vessel is given authorization in accordance with the regulations of the coastal state where the transshipment takes place, or where such transshipment is under the supervision of a relevant international organization, or where there is a qualified fisheries observer on board to monitor the transshipment. The ban, introduced pursuant to Article 87 of the Royal Ordinance on Fisheries, is designed to eliminate the possibility of transshipment of IUU fish by Thai-flagged vessels operating in high seas and territorial waters of foreign states. The measure is also expected to help prevent illegal at-sea transfer of seamen between fishing vessels. The Thai authorities have been developing their technical capabilities to monitor and control transshipment at sea effectively. All fishing vessels operating outside Thai waters are now tracked by the authorities using the Vessel Monitoring System (VMS). Hence, any suspicious at-sea transshipment activities will be detected and promptly investigated, and the vessels in question will be inspected upon returning to port. Those found violating the transshipment ban, which is considered a “serious infringement” under Article 114 of the Royal Ordinance, are subject to a range of administrative sanctions, including the confiscation of the catch and the revocation of their fishing licenses (Article 113), and a maximum fine of 100,000 baht (about 2,600 euros) (Article 155). 2. Inspections of Thai-flagged fishing vessels operating outside Thai waters A special task force comprising officers from concerned agencies are conducting inspections of 42 Thai-flagged fishing vessels operating outside Thai waters in the Indian Ocean. To date, the task force has inspected 24 of these vessels. The remaining 18 vessels which are still in the Indian Ocean will be inspected during their return trips to Thailand. In this regard, the Director-General of the Department of Fisheries has ordered all vessels operating outside Thai waters, which did not previously report to one of the Port in – Port out Control Centers when porting out, to return to port for inspection by 30 January 2016. Failure to comply could result in a fine of 2,000,000 baht (about 51,000 euros) (Article 152). Representatives from the International Labour Organization (ILO) and Greenpeace were invited to observe the inspection during 2-5 January 2016. After the inspection, ILO and Greenpeace representatives were impressed with the well-organizaed operations, during which the seamen on board were interviewed, their documents checked and their records collected. The ILO and Greenpeace representatives expressed their appreciation to the Thai authorities for giving them the opportunity to observe the inspection. The inspection scheme has so far uncovered cases of infringements of related fisheries and labour laws, namely the Thai Vessels Act, the Immigration Act and the recently enacted Royal Ordinance. Examples of offences include the absence or expiration of valid overseas fishing license, the failure to record fishing data in the logbook, and the use of illegal migrant workers on board without appropriate work permits and employment contracts. Legal action is being taken against vessel owners found to have violated the laws. The Royal Ordinance imposes substantial penalties on cases of serious infringements. The owner of a fishing vessel of 150 gross tonnage or more that carries out fishing outside Thai waters without a fishing license is subject to a fine of 20,000,000 to 30,000,000 baht (about 500,000 – 750,000 euros) or 5 times the value of the aquatic animals caught, whichever amount is higher. The owner of a fishing vessel of 150 gross tonnage or more that fails to report the logbook is liable to a fine of 2,000,000 baht (about 50,000 euros). The use of illegal seamen without a valid seaman’s book or work permit is liable to a fine of 400,000 – 800,000 baht (10,000 – 20,000 euros) per seaman. 3. Observers on Board The Royal Ordinance specifies that every Thai-flagged fishing vessel operating outside Thai waters must have a fisheries observer stationed on board to ensure that fishing operation complies with international standards and fisheries regulations. The observer’s main tasks are to observe the fishing operation, collect data and the specimen of aquatic animals caught by the vessel for traceability purposes, and submit a summary report to the competent official. In addition, the presence of the observer helps to prevent illegal labour practices on board. The first batch of observers (20 of them) completed their training in December 2015. The Department of Fisheries have been preparing operating manuals and report forms, and formulating necessary rules and regulations to ensure the effectiveness of the observer program. The process is being expedited so that the observers can begin working on board selected vessels operating in the High Seas or the Indian Ocean, tentatively in early 2016.  4. Monitoring, Control and Surveillance: Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) and the Fisheries Monitoring Operation Center (FMOC) The Department of Fisheries has set up a Fisheries Monitoring Operation Center (FMOC) equipped with Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) technology. The VMS system is already operational, enabling us to monitor real-time activities of all fishing vessels above 60 gross tonnage (approximately 2,000 vessels). Automatic alarms are being upgraded to detect suspicious illegal fishing activities. These VMS capabilities result in more effective monitoring, control and surveillance of Thailand’s commercial fishing fleet. The systems also help authorities identify and track high-risk fishing vessels, especially those operating outside Thai waters, with a view to prevent and combat IUU fishing. In this regard, the authorities are seeking technical cooperation with international experts from the U.S. and the E.U. to further enhance their monitoring capabilities, especially in risk and behavioral analysis of fishing vessels. All the above measures are part of the government’s far-reaching effort to reform Thailand’s fisheries management in line with international standards. The latest moves followed a comprehensive revamping of the fisheries legislation and the adoption of the Fisheries Management Plan and the National Plan of Action to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate IUU Fishing (NPOA-IUU). Inspections of seafood processing plants are being carried out, with a number of factory owners already charged with violations of labour and related laws.   Source : http://www.mfa.go.th/main/en/media-center/14/63487-Thailand-heightens-law-enforcement-to-combat-IUU-f.html
Administrator 2016-01-08