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Phuket begins fight against slavery on fishing boats

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: The nationwide push to eradicate slavery in Thailand’s fishing industry started in Phuket today as the Phuket Provincial Employment Office (PPEO) began to receive lists of migrant workers employed in the field.

Following the order by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), fishing boat operators have until July 21 to report the names of their migrant workers – both legal and illegal – to the PPEO.

Non-fishing industry employers must also provide the PPEO with names of migrant workers, but only have until July 15 to do so (story here).

“I believe there are about 10,000 illegal workers in Phuket,” said PPEO Chief Yaowapa Pibulpol, discounting previous estimates that put the number as high as 200,000 (story here).

The NCPO also ordered the opening of one-stop centers to streamline the process of registering illegal migrants; the first center opened in Samut Sakhon on June 30 and seven others opened in coastal provinces today (story here).

Phuket’s one-stop center was originally slated to open on July 7. However, the date was pushed back indefinitely due to a lack of resources needed for taking fingerprints electronically and printing identification cards.

“Once the center opens, employers will have 30 days to register their illegal workers with us. After the 30-day deadline, both illegal workers and their employers will be prosecuted,” Ms Yaowapa said.

Registration of workers and tougher enforcement is hoped to eradicate slavery.

“Registered workers will be eligible for all the benefits that any other worker gets, such as social security,” she explained.

“In our new system led by the military, law enforcement looks stronger than before. I do not think employers will risk disobeying the NCPO order.”

— Chutharat Plerin

 

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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