Thai seafood processing industry agrees new steps to improve working conditions of workers


BANGKOK, Thailand (ILO news) – The Thai Tuna Industry Association (TTIA) and Thai Frozen Food Association (TFFA) have strengthened their commitment to the Seafood Good Labour Practices (GLP) scheme to ensure that it succeeds as a robust and credible industry improvement programme.

The move follows the launch of a new report by the International Labour Organization (ILO) entitled ‘Turning principles into pathways: the future of the Seafood Good Labour Practices programme’ that provides a series of recommendations to strengthen the effectiveness of the Seafood GLP scheme.

Steps agreed by the industry associations include involving civil society organizations in factory visits and providing more detailed annual public reporting such as information on the composition of Worker Welfare Committees in participating factories and worker grievances. Recognizing the contribution of migrant and women workers to the sector, TTIA and TFFA have committed to increasing their number on Worker Welfare Committees as well as provide incentives to encourage participation.

TTIA and TFFA will recommend the adoption of the ’employer pays’ principle for all recruitment fees and associated costs incurred in Thailand, in order to minimize the risks of recruitment-related debt among workers. In addition, the associations will ask members to immediately ban pregnancy screening during recruitment. They will also recommend factories make breastfeeding facilities available. TFFA will additionally encourage members to provide special working arrangements during pregnancy and distribute free sanitary napkins.

“We are excited to move forward with the Seafood GLP and are ready to welcome observers from civil society organizations to factory visits starting in July 2022”, said Attapan Masrungson Executive Advisor of TTIA. “The participation of civil society organizations will support us to develop a relationship of trust between management and workers and help us to identify solutions to any grievances and problems.”

“TFFA is committed to the Seafood GLP as a continuous improver programme”, said Viboon Supakarapongkul Vice President of TFFA. “We will work to encourage management and operational systems that are gender responsive and non-discriminatory, particularly as our industry relies on migrant and women workers.”

Thailand is among the top ten exporters of fish and seafood products in the world and held 4 per cent of the global export value in 2018. In 2021, the sector exported 1.6 million tonnes of seafood products and valued at 5.7 billion USD and employs an estimated 600,000 people in Thailand. The Seafood GLP was developed by ILO in collaboration with TTIA and TFFA, with the support of the European Union through the Ship to Shore Rights Thailand project (2016-20). Together TTIA and TFFA represent 106 members participating in the programme, which provides industry guidance on workplace standards specific to Thai seafood production, based on Thai laws and principles of international labour standards.

“We, as the representatives of worker organizations, are pleased to see a renewed commitment from the Thai industry to the Seafood Good Labour Practices programme,” said Dr Pongthiti Pongsilamanee, Deputy Secretary-General for Education, State Enterprise Workers’ Relations Confederation. “In particular, we welcome the inclusion of civil society organizations and workers’ representatives in the factory visits, and support to increase participation of migrant and women workers in workers’ activities. We look forward to closer collaboration with Thai businesses to improve working conditions for all.”

“We welcome the Thai seafood processing sector’s commitment to more detailed public reporting and enhanced accountability mechanisms. The inclusion of civil society organizations and workers’ organizations in factory visits can be beneficial for the workers and can contribute to improving the governance of the sector,” said Giuseppe Busini, Deputy Head of Mission of the European Union Delegation to Thailand. “A robust Seafood Good Labour Practices programme can build a more resilient industry through the protection of one its greatest assets: the workers.”

The industry commitment to the Seafood GLP is supported by the Royal Thai Government through the Ministry of Labour as well as Employers Confederation of Thailand (ECOT) and the State Enterprise Workers’ Relations Confederation (SERC).

“The Ministry of Labour is proud to continue supporting Thai businesses in improving labour standards, particularly in the important sector of seafood processing. We look forward to working with the ILO and other partners to strengthen the credibility of the Seafood Good Labour Practices programme, and to expand the benefits to other sectors,” said Boonchob Suttamanuswong, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Labour.

“The involvement of the industry, Royal Thai Government and labour unions in the development of the recommendations to strengthen the Seafood Good Labour Practices scheme is a very positive sign and should help support their effective implementation,” said Graeme Buckley, Director of ILO’s Decent Work Team for East and South East Asia and the Pacific as well as the Country Office for Thailand, Cambodia, and Lao People’s Democratic Republic.

Turning principles into pathways: the future of the Seafood Good Labour Practices programme

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