Addressing Labour Issues in Aquaculture, Shrimp and Seafood Processing Sectors in Thailand - Role of the Department of Fisheries
A Joint-Initiative DOF-ILO-IPEC
16 March, 2012
Prince Palace Hotel - Bangkok
Worldwide, agriculture is the sector where by far the largest share of child labourers is found – nearly 60 per cent. Over 129 million girls and boys aged 5 to 17 years old work in crop and livestock production, helping supply some of the food and drink we consume and the fibres and raw materials we use to make other products. This figure includes child labourers in fisheries and forestry. Almost 70 per cent of child labourers are unpaid family workers1. Agriculture is one of the three most dangerous sectors in terms of work-related fatalities, non-fatal accidents and occupational diseases. Based on research by ILO About 59 per cent (or 70 million) of all children in hazardous work aged 5–17 are in agriculture.
Child labour is defined by the ILO Convention No. 138 on Minimum Age, 1973, ratified by Thailand in 2001 and the ILO Convention No. 182 on Worst Forms of Child Labour, 1999, ratified in 2004, as work that harms children’s well-being and hinders their education, development and future livelihoods.
Not all work is harmful for children depending on the age and provided that some protections are in place. Children are particularly at risk as their bodies and minds are still developing and the negative health consequences of their work can last into adulthood. However, age-appropriate tasks that do not present risks and do not interfere with a child’s schooling and right to leisure can be a normal part of growing up in a rural environment. Indeed, many types of contributions to the household's livelihoods can provide children with practical and social skills and guide them towards future productive jobs.
The universal primary education age in Thailand is set by the Government at 15 year of age, meaning that children below that should not be working in any kinds of occupations but attending school. For children between 15-18 years work is allowed provided that it is not harmful to them and regulated under Ministry of Labour regulations on hazardous work.
Addressing labour welfare in general and key labour issues such as child labour, forced labour and migrant welfare in shrimp and seafood processing industry has been identified by the Royal Government of Thailand (RGT) and the ILO as an area requiring attention.
In the recent years there have been many references in the media and through research to child labour, forced labour issues, as well as concerning problems for Thai and migrant workers in getting labour protection they are entitled to under the Thai laws. International buyers, countries that Thailand is exporting to and consumer in these countries are increasingly attentive so that the products they consume are produced in accordance to principles of decent work and according to international labour standards. The partnership between ILO and the RGT aims at developing measures through which any labour issues in the shrimp and seafood processing supply chain can be addressed and decent working conditions can be achieved for Thai and migrant workers who contribute to the industry wellbeing as well as to the economic development of Thailand.
Based on currently available research the risk of child labour in the shrimp production value chain is situated in the layer of small-scale informal enterprises that do primary processing (i.e. sorting, peeling, and deveining). Child labour situations have been observed predominantly among migrant workers in shrimp and seafood processing in the Samut Sakhon area; but it also involves Thai children in the southern coastal areas of Songkhla and Nakhon Si Thammarat, where children have been observed sorting seafood on the docks, and working in small-scale seafood processing units. Shrimp aquaculture and seafood processing are also found on the coast of Surat Thani and Songkhla provinces but the nature and extent of child labour in these is yet to be determined.
The RGT and ILO through the current initiative are engaged in a concerted effort to address issues pertaining to child labour, forced labour and workers’ welfare in view of promoting decent work in the aquaculture, shrimp and seafood processing sectors throughout the whole supply chain. Key partners in this effort are Ministry of Labour through its Department for Labour Welfare and Protection (DLPW), Ministry of Agriculture through, the Department of Fisheries (DOF), Employer’s Confederation of Thailand (ECOT) and its affiliate Thai Frozen Food Association (TFFA), Trade Unions and civil society organizations and academic institutions.
A key strategy in addressing these issues is to look at existing capacities and mandates by Government agencies and to assess how through existing programmes, projects and resources, labour standards and better labour practices can be assured in the overall supply chain of the industry: from farms, through harvesting to primary processing all the way to the export processing factories up to the export markets.
An example of that could be in the form of DOF work in monitoring hygiene and product quality for export certification of shrimp farms and export processing enterprises. Another is the joint ILO-DOF initiative on developing Good Labour Management Practices (GLMP) materials and training programmes for a wide range of industry actors. The overall aim is to create a favourable environment for enterprises across the shrimp industry supply chain to comply with national labour standards with special emphasis on child labour and forced labour. The GLMP are envisioned to be developed and operationalized by DOF and DLPW together with the private sector represented by the TFFA.
A parallel process of strengthening labour administration, in particular the labour inspection system is being developed by the DLPW. In practice the GLMP will consist of a multi-modular training programme that is supported by a set of guidelines and best practice sheets on good labour practices. Finally, the GLMP seeks to achieve a higher overall standard in factories through a combination of training on existing laws and regulations on labour and product safety and hygiene and on promoting best industry practices.
2. Objectives of the Workshop
The workshop’s aims are:
1) To inform and engage with key officials in the DOF on labour issues including child labour, forced labour and more generally on working conditions in the aquaculture, shrimp and seafood sectors.
2) To create interlinks and synergies among different departments and programmes of DOF towards successfully working with other programme partners on issues related to labour and welfare in the aquaculture, shrimp and seafood processing sectors.
3) To brainstorm on the components of the Good Labour Management Practice system and to assess best implementation mechanism for the programme.
Approximately 80 people are expected to attend the workshop. Among these are officials from Department of Fisheries, from management levels--- Division/Bureau Directors, Chief of Fisheries Provincial Offices, Coastal Fisheries Research and Development Centres, Fish and Fishery Product Inspection and control Centres and other relevant officials, key Department of Labour Protection and Welfare (DLPW) officials and International Labour Organization (ILO) and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) representatives.
4. Methodology and Working Language
The workshop will be delivered through a combination of formal technical presentations, panel discussions and working group sessions in order to offer the audience a variety of means to share knowledge, and interact. The workshop will be both in English and Thai languages with simultaneous translation.
Prince Palace Hotel is situated on Damrongrak Road (off Krungkasem Rd.) For more information please consult http://www.princepalace.co.th/
It can be easily reached from:
- BTS Skytrain (Rachathewi station) 5 mins. (Taxi Boat)
- MBK/Siam Square 5 mins. (Taxi Boat)
- Pratunam (Platinum/Central World) 10 mins. (Taxi Boat)
- Golden Mount 5 mins. (Taxi Boat)
- Hualamphong Train Station 10 mins. (Car Taxi)
- MRT (Hualamphong station 10 mins. (Car Taxi)
DOF – ILO-IPEC Thailand Meeting - March 16th 2012
Prince Palace Hotel - Bangkok
“Addressing Labour Issues in Aquaculture, Shrimp and Seafood Processing Sectors in Thailand – Role of the Department of Fisheries”
Date / Time
Expected Outcome/ Remarks
Remarks by Mr Jiyuan Wang, Director of the ILO Country Office for
Opening Remarks by Dr. Wimol Jantrarothai, Director General, Department of Fisheries
Statements to support joint collaboration
9.30 – 9.45 Coffee Break
9.45 – 12.30
Setting the scene – Panel Discussion with Q/A
1. Child Labour in Agriculture ILO Film showing
4. Significance of Labour conditions in Shrimp and Seafood Industry from International Perspective and Trade –by Ms. Kanchana Patarachoke, Director, North America Division, Department of American and South Pacific Affairs, MFA
6. Labour and welfare issues in the shrimp and seafood processing sectors - why does attending to child, forced labour and migrant works issues matter – Ms. Simrin Singh, Senior Specialist on Child Labour, ILO
8. Royal Thai Government (RTG) policy and principles in working on child labour and protection of workers – by Mr. Anantachai Utaipatanacheep, Director of Labour Protection, Department of Labour Protection and Welfare (TBC)
10. Social and labour issues in relation to practices in shrimp farming and processing --by Dr. Waraporn Prompoj, Senior Expert on International Fisheries Affairs, Department of Fisheries
12. Q/A - Moderator – Tuomo Poutiainen, Project Manager, ILO-IPEC
Establishing interlinks between labour, workers welfare, trade and agriculture
12.30 – 13.30 Lunch
Group Work Discussion:
1. Partnership activities and links between MOL/DLPW and DOF actions on labour issues
2. The ILO-IPEC Project and the Objectives with focus of the joint partnership activities
a. Knowledge generation – survey on child labour and industry mapping
b. Good Labour Management Practices and Model Enterprise Concept
c. Institutional capacity building and staff training
- Local and international outreach - ILO
3. Instructions for group work discussion
5. Challenges and Opportunities in working on labour issues (mandate, skills, networks and resources)
Presenting the nature and rationale of collaborative efforts and through group work sessions getting inputs from participants to best channels of influence and integration of work for sustained impact
Presentation of the discussion outcomes
General Conclusion and ways forwards
1 ILO, (2010), Accelerating Action Against Child Labour – Global Report under the follow-up to the ILO-Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, Geneva