CSOs’ Demands concerning the Ratification of the International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention No.188 and the ensuing measures after the ratification
Thailand’s Minister of Labor, Pol Gen Adul Saengsingkaew, has submitted an instrument of ratification for the International Labor Organization (ILO) Work in Fishing Convention No. 188, 2007 (C188) to Mr. Guy Ryder, the Director-General of the International Labor Organization at its headquarters in Geneva, Swiss Confederation on 30 January 2019. It could be held as a milestone for Thailand to reiterate its stance and policies for labor protection of marine fishery sector and to ensure our protection measures for fishing workers are in compliance with international standards. The Migrant Working Group (MWG) appreciates the government’s implementation.
Nevertheless, key to ensure successful enforcement of the Convention is the promulgation or revision of domestic laws to protect fishing workers in compliance with the Convention. Until now, the Ministry of Labor has endeavored to draft the Labor Protection in the Sea Fishery Sector Act and MWG would like to share our observations and concerns regarding the enactment of domestic laws to ensure compliance with the Convention as follows;
- On social security C188’s Article 34 provides that “Each Member shall ensure that fishers ordinarily resident in its territory, and their dependents to the extent provided in national law, are entitled to benefit from social security protection under conditions no less favorable than those applicable to other workers, including employed and self-employed persons, ordinarily resident in its territory. But the Draft Labor Protection in the Sea Fishery Sector Act’s Section 12 provides that “The boat owners are obliged to ensure their fishing workers are entitled to various forms of health benefits and welfare as provided for by the Minister of Labor. Such health security and welfare as well as other measures can be provided for by the Minister of Labor” The content of Section 12 of the Draft Act is not in compliance with Article 34 of the Convention which states that the entitlement to social security protection under conditions shall be no less favorable than those applicable to other workers Therefore, to define social security protection to cover only health and welfare benefits is not in compliance with the general provision on social security as provided for in Thailand’s Social Security Act. It could also give rise to the promulgation of domestic law in breach of the specific provisions in the Convention.
- On permission to allow a person at 16 years and older to have apprenticeship on fishing boats Even though, the Convention provides a minimum age of a worker in fishery sector at 16 years, but it essentially provides for in Article 6(2) that “Nothing in this Convention shall affect any law, award or custom, or any agreement between fishing vessel owners and fishers, which ensures more favorable conditions than those provided for in this Convention.” At present, Thailand’s laws provide the minimum age of a worker in fishery sector at 18 years in consideration of safety of a child employed in this sector. Therefore, any measures or regulations to make it possible for a person at the age 16 and upward to be recruited for apprenticeship on fishing boats would be a breach to the essence of the Convention and other policies and laws of the Thai government which has placed an importance on the issue of child labor including the Notification of the National Committee for the Eradication of the Worst Forms of Child Labor which indicates fishing work as harmful to a child and the ILO Convention C182 on Worst Forms of Child Labor to which Thailand is a state party.
- On payment through bank account or ATM which is a legal measure in Thailand to prevent an unlawful payment of the wage. The employers, however, voice their opposition to this requirement claiming it would incur them a burden and that they are not yet ready. An attempt has thus been made to revise the Draft Act to make it possible for payment to be made in either cash handouts or advance payment, the two options of which are not provided for in the Convention. The ratification for the ILO Protocol to Convention 29 - Protocol to The Forced Labor Convention, 1930 has already been found useful to the fishing workers and be in compliance with the Protocol. Therefore, the revision proposed by the employers has to be stringently reviewed in terms of its impacts and contingent measures must be put in place to prevent fishing workers from being denied their payment according to the law.
- On consultation as the essential issue in the Convention which implies consultation of all stakeholders including the state, employers and workers. This provision is not clearly provided for in the Draft Labor Protection in the Sea Fishery Sector Act. It fails to provide for a committee or a mechanism for consultation. In addition, in a long run, such consultation mechanism shall benefit the enhancement of the protection of fishing workers and serve the interest of all sectors.
Based on the four observations and concerns, the Migrant Working Group (MWG) would like to urge the government, the National Legislative Assembly (NLA), Ministry of Labor and all parties concerned with the Draft Labor Protection in the Sea Fishery Sector Act and the revision of all laws, Ministerial Regulations and Notifications to bear in mind the principles and provisions of the Convention and to pay attention to the establishment of a meaningful consultation mechanism in the enactment of laws at all levels. This will help to ensure compliance with the Convention that Thailand has just ratified and would give rise to the genuine protection of the fishing workers.
With respect in human rights and human dignities
Migrant Working Group
For more information, please contact Mr. Adisorn Kerdmongkhol, Migrant Working Group’s Coordinator, tel 089 788 7138 or email [email protected]