Wednesday, November 20, 2019

New centre to address migrant fishing workers’ rights

Dec 18. 2017
Myanmar migrant workers unload shellfish from a fishing boat at a Samut Songkhram pier.
Myanmar migrant workers unload shellfish from a fishing boat at a Samut Songkhram pier.
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By Pratch Rujivanarom
The Nation

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A NEW CENTRE to tackle human trafficking and other problems faced by workers in the fishing industry opened yesterday to mark International Migrant Day, while a worker’s rights group cautioned the government had to address policy and its approach toward migrant workers to improve the country’s international reputation.

Social organisations led by the Labour Rights Promotion Network (LPN) and the Fish Marketing Organisation, yesterday announced the opening of Fishermen Centre at Samut Sakhon fish market in a new approach to solve the chronic problems of slave labour, child labour and human trafficking in the fishing industry.

The centre has two additional offices located in Rayong’s Muang District and Trat’s Klong Yai District.

The centre is to be operated by the public sector with the involvement of migrant workers and the business sector. Its mandate includes promoting the understanding of relevant laws and workers’ rights affecting the fishing industry and empowering workers to prevent rights violations and personal abuse.

LPN director Sompong Srakaew said that the idea behind the opening of Fishermen Centre was new, as all key stakeholders on fisheries workers’ issues were participating with the same goal – to ensure protection of workers’ rights and end human trafficking. In the past, the organisations addressed the issues separately.

Sompong noted the chronic problems of slave labour, child labour and human trafficking have heavily damaged the country’s reputation and resulted in a low ranking in the United States’ Trafficking in Persons Report and the European Union’s illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) Fishing listing.

He emphasised that the workers’ lack of knowledge and understanding about the law and their rights has exacerbated the problem. Moreover, many workers in the fishing industry, regardless of nationality, have lacked access to justice and a system of rights protection because there was no central agency to receive, deal and support them with their problems.

“From now, if any workers faced any problem, they can notify the centre to get the rights protection and legal assistance,” Sompong said.

“The centre also works proactively by recruiting the migrant worker volunteers to monitor any problem in their workplace and community, while the centre also works with business operators to support the workers’ rights protection.”

Samut Sakhon Social Development and Human Security Office director Jintana Chanbamrung said that the authorities are serious about tackling human trafficking and ensuring the worker rights are protected. She said opening the Fishermen Centre would significantly support the effort to eradicate human trafficking.

In the bigger picture of migrant-worker problems, LPN deputy committee chairman Surapong Kongchantuk said that the government’s policies and negative stance on migrant workers still hindered efforts to solve the longstanding problems.


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