Thailand has approved the new Regulation of the Department of Labour Protection and Welfare on Labour Inspection and Criminal Proceedings according to the Ministerial Regulation on Labour Protection in Sea Fishing Work, B.E. 2561 (2018), in order to enable the labour inspections and criminal proceedings in sea fishing to be conducted more swiftly and effectively. The Regulation entered into force since 26 June 2018.
The labour inspectors in 22 coastal provinces are now obliged to inspect the employment of labourers in the sea fishing industry, which includes inspecting employment conditions through workers’ interviews, and examining documents pertaining to the employment contract, wage payment, workers’ registry, and the record for the provision of leisure times, as stipulated in the abovementioned Ministerial Regulation. The inspections are to be carried out at the Port-in Port-out (PIPO) Control Centres, at ports and fish markets, on the fishing vessels while at sea, or at seafood processing plants.
If an employer fails to comply with the said Ministerial Regulation, the labour inspectors will issue an order to the employer commanding the malpractice to be rectified within a set timeframe, and/or to report to the competent officials to proceed with administrative sanctions and criminal proceedings, subject to the severity of the wrongdoings.
Furthermore, the competent officials will begin criminal proceedings immediately for any offences involving human trafficking or child labour, offences that impact the vast majority of workers, and repeated offences.
In this regard, any vessel convicted of labour malpractices will be categorised in the risk group, ranked by severity of the offence. The vessels in the risk group will be subjected to more frequent random inspections, during Port-in and Port-out and while at sea, than ordinary vessels.
This newly issued Regulation will be used as a guideline for the labour inspectors to improve accuracy and uniformity of practices. It will also enhance the effectiveness of labour protection within the fishery sector, and enable more speedy prosecution of any offences, thus laying a firm foundation for Thailand’s readiness prior to the ratification of the International Labour Organization (ILO)’s Work in Fishing Convention (C188) which is scheduled for completion in 2018.