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Crackdown on Thai fishing fleet ‘slave labour’ underway

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– Thailand news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Crackdown on ‘slave labour’ underway
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Gen Ake Angsananont, the deputy national police chief in charge of suppressing human trafficking, yesterday vowed to crack down on “slave labour” in the fisheries industry and among 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 to the Provincial Employment Office.

Gen Ake said police, acting on instructions from the NCPO to stamp out human trafficking especially in the two sensitive areas, have proposed a plan and discussed with parties the implementation of a measure to have fishing boat owners draw up the lists of their migrant workers on board.

As for foreigners procuring children for the “begging business”, Ake 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 would this week 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 required forms for the 22 coastal provinces at www.doe.go.th.

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

Registration

President of the Samut Sakhon Fishery Association 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 Bt400 monthly instalments and workers could get treatment at any hospital where their boat is berthed.

The NCPO should call 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’s policy and the operators’ needs on the same page while also sustainably tackling migrant workers’ issues and human trafficking, he added.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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