On 27 March 2018, the Thai Cabinet approved the draft Ministerial Regulation on Labour Protection in Sea Fishing Work (No. …), B.E. …., which contained important amendments to the Ministerial Regulation on Labour Protection in Sea Fishing Work B.E. 2557. The draft Ministerial Regulation requires that sea fishing workers be paid monthly wages via bank accounts and that employers who own oversea fishing vessels shall provide communication devices for fishing workers to communicate with authority concerned or family members during their time at sea.
In the previous regulation, the method of wage payment for sea fishing workers varied according to each employer. However, the new regulation requires the employers to pay the workers on a monthly basis which must not be less than daily minimum wage rate multiplied by 30 days. Moreover, the payment must be paid via bank accounts to ensure transparency and accountability, to prevent unfair wage deductions as well as to help solve the issues of delayed and inaccurate payments.
The Thai Ministry of Labour is working with commercial banks and the National Fisheries Association of Thailand to facilitate the reception of workers’ monthly wages via ATMs. The number of ATMs at 32 Port-in Port-out (PIPO) Centres in 22 coastal provinces, fishing piers, fish markets and in fishing workers accommodation areas has increased to 80 machines, equipped with software in the native languages of the foreign workers. Apart from this, collaboration with the Bank of Thailand to set the criteria and standard for all commercial banks for the opening of bank accounts of foreign sea fishing workers is ongoing.
In addition, the Ministry of Labour has been working with the ILO to raise awareness of the workers on the new regulation of the wage payment via bank transfer by producing information via various forms of media available to foreign workers in their local languages. Three stakeholder meetings covering 22 coastal provincial areas were held to provide knowledge on labour protection law, fishing workers’ contracts and payroll accounting management to vessels owners, fisheries associations, sea fisheries businesses, and representatives of commercial banks and government agencies. The meetings attracted more than 760 participants.
Concerning the regulation on the provision of communication devices for sea fishing workers while at sea, it is one of the mechanisms that will enhance the crew’s quality of life and provide them with a channel of communication to make complaint and to be able to quickly report any problems that occurred.
The aforementioned developments reflect the Thai Government’s commitment to protect workers in the fisheries sector from falling victim to forced labour and human trafficking, to improve the management of labour in Thai fisheries to be more effective and also to work toward the ratification of the ILO’s Work in Fishing Convention (C188).