New legislation follows years of global scrutiny over

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  • 23 May 2019 12:00 AM
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Warnings Over New Law to Protect Workers in Thai Fishing Industry

A new law to address abuses in Thailand's multi-billion dollar fishing industry contains loopholes, labour rights campaigners said on Thursday, warning of difficulties in enforcement. The legislation published on Wednesday follows years of global scrutiny over abuse of Thai and migrant workers and mandates basic rights such as social security, medical care and rest periods. It will come into effect in six months. But campaigners said the government would struggle to enforce the legislation and raised concerns that it remains vague on how any benefits would be accessed. "The new law does not mention that," said Papop Siamhan, a project officer at the Human Rights Development Foundation. "We will have to wait for sub-regulations and there is no indication of when that will happen."

The law implements the International Labour Organization (ILO) Work in Fishing Convention, which Thailand became the first country in Asia to ratify in January. The convention puts the minimum age for workers on fishing boats at 16 years - two years below existing Thai labour law that says no one under 18 should be engaged in dangerous work. "Minors on fishing boats at sea is dangerous. The Thai government should not follow (the convention) in that instance," Siamhan said. This needs to be clarified because it can create confusion among employers and also authorities looking to regulate."

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