Jul 7, 2014

Thailand - Thai junta starts crackdown on 'slave labour'

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Police focusing on fishery sector in 22 coastal provinces and foreign ‘beggar gangs'

The Thai junta has started the crackdown on 'slave labour' as it steps up efforts against human trafficking.

Pol Gen Ake Angsananont, Thailand's deputy National Police chief in charge of suppressing human trafficking, yesterday vowed to crack down on "slave labour" in the fisheries industry and foreign beggar gangs.

The registration of migrant workers in the fishery and related industries in 22 coastal provinces kicks off today. The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has given trawler operators until July 21 to file lists of the names of their migrant crew in the Provincial Employment Office.

Ake said the police, acting on instructions from the NCPO to stamp out human trafficking especially in these two sensitive areas, had proposed and discussed with parties the plan that would require fishing boat owners in Thailand to draw up the lists of their migrant workers.

As for foreigners "procuring children for the begging business", Ake said he would call a meeting of police units including the Anti-Human Trafficking, Marine, Immigration and Tourist police to launch operations in accordance with the NCPO policy.

Since some beggars were also forced into the business, he said he would inspect the situation in Sa Kaew's Aranyaprathet border district.

Permanent secretary for the Labour Ministry Jeerasak Sukhonthachat said the Employment Department would post information on worker registration and the required forms on the 22 coastal provinces at www.doe.go.th.

Fishery operators could download and fill them out before submitting their lists of names to the Employment Office in the province where their boats were registered or docked.

Samut Sakhon Fishery Association president Kamjorn Mongkoltrirak urged the NCPO to register migrants working on fishing boats separately from those in fishery-related industries because the deckhands often jumped ship after working awhile, so boat owners had to find new migrant workers to replace them.

As the fishing boats often stay out for a long time, registration should be flexible, like twice a year, each time for three months.

The Public Health Ministry should offer term health insurance of three months, six months or one year to allow boat owners to buy a policy according to an individual worker's status.

The newly hired would get a three-month policy, while those working for more than a year would get a one-year policy. The premiums would be paid in monthly instalments and workers could get treatment at any hospital where their boat is berthed.

He said the NCPO should call for regular meetings with trawler operators in the 22 coastal provinces to explain the migrant worker employment guidelines and allow them to express opinions.

This would bring the NCPO policy and the operators' needs on the same page while also sustainably tackling migrant workers' issues and human trafficking, he added.

The Nation

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