BackgroundThe Project ‘Combating the Worst Forms of Child Labour in Shrimp and Seafood Processing Areas in Thailand (December 2010 - December 2014) aims to create a shrimp and seafood processing industry that is free of child labour and which offers decent working conditions and opportunities to all workers, including migrant workers. It is a three pronged project – advocate for changes in national policy on child labour, influence for better labour practices in business, and providing services to direct beneficiary. The project strategies focus on both Thai and migrant workers.
On 20-21 February 2012, the Thai Trade Unions (LCT, SERC, TTUC, and NCPE) and the ILO held a workshop on the role of trade unions in the protection of the rights of migrant workers. The workshop served as a forum to raise awareness on issues faced by migrant workers, including child labour and forced labour; and to promote cooperation with trade unions in countries of origin and other countries of destination.
On 7th June 2013 a workshop was conducted by the ILO (through joint collaboration between ACTRAV, IPEC and GMS-TRIANGLE projects) on “ILO-Trade Union Cooperation for Promoting Labour Standards”. The workshop aimed at further supporting Thai unions’ on-going campaign for ratification of ILO Conventions No.87 and No.98 concerning freedom of association and right to collective bargaining, and promoting its link to campaigning on other fundamental rights, namely those on elimination of child labour and forced labour, with a specific focus on migrant workers.
The workshop agreed on a number of key areas of activities to be implemented during 2013-2014: i) Greater mobilization of unions in provinces; ii) economic empowerment of migrant workers and informal workers; iii) Creating leadership pool with trained young leaders; iv) learning from fellow trade unions in other countries on innovative approaches in addressing child labour and migrant labour issues; and iv) Conducting mini research works on application of migrant workers’ rights. Furthermore, the participants reiterated the need for stronger unity among unions, and stressed the necessity for more intense campaigning for ratification of the ILO Conventions No.87 and No.98.
Furthermore, a regional meeting “Increased Knowledge Base and Sharing Good Practices for the Protection of Migrant Workers” was held on 12 – 13 September, 2013 in the province of Makassar, South Sulawesi. The meeting was organised by the ILO ASEAN TRIANGLE Project in cooperation with the Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration of the Republic of Indonesia. The representatives of trade unions, employers’ organizations and governments from many of ASEAN Member States, including from Thailand and Indonesia, participated in the meeting which focused on migrant workers in fishing.
During the meeting, a lot of information was shared about migrant workers in ASEAN countries, including Indonesia and Thailand, and working conditions of migrant fishers working in Indonesia’s or Thailand’s fishing vessels either roaming in Thai or Indonesian waters. The specific problems and challenges of fishermen were identified, and the need to address them properly was stressed, including the need for greater protection of the rights of migrant fishers.
The two days regional meeting in Makassar highlighted the importance of the collaboration between trade unions among ASEAN State Members, where for example, countries can develop and expand bilateral trade unions cooperation and even further, can explore the possibility of transfer of trade union membership. In the context of the relations between Thailand and Indonesia, this particular recommendation turns out to be fit and applicable to be followed up further.
Therefore, as a first step in the efforts to strengthen the cooperation between trade unions in Indonesia and in Thailand, the ILO-IPEC Shrimp Project and ILO ASEAN Triangle Projects have planned to organize a study visit of representatives of Thai trade unions to Indonesia to exchange information and learn from experiences and good practices with a focus on shrimp and seafood industry.
The dates of the study visit are 22-24 August 2014. The study visit will take place in Bitung province, Indonesia where the shrimp and seafood industry is mostly located.
ObjectivesThe objectives of the Thai Trade Union representatives’ study visit to Indonesia are to:
- Build common understanding of the challenges faced by migrant workers in the shrimp and seafood processing industry in both countries;
- Share information and good practices between Indonesian trade unions and that of Thailand, particularly in the following three areas: and
- Contribute to the development of the “compendium” of good practices in the above three areas which may be shared further with other trade unions in ASEAN.