|Title:|| ||Masters of the Sea
|Date of publication:|| ||September 2010|
|Description/subject:|| ||Thailand is one of the world’s major fish-exporting countries, but it is Burmese fishermen who keep the industry alive...
"Aung Than is no ordinary fisherman. At 33, he is already a veteran of the seas. His years of hard work and commitment to his job have earned him the position of “yay shuu,” or master, of the Thai-owned vessel on which he and his fellow Burmese crew members make their living in the Andaman Sea.
As the most experienced and highly qualified member of his ship’s crew, he earns 10,000 baht (US $310) a month—about three times the basic salary of a Burmese fisherman working in Thailand, and 10 times what he would make in his native Burma.
Thailand’s fishing industry is kept afloat by a massive influx of migrant labor from neighboring Burma. Both on the ships and in the fish-processing plants, Burmese make up the majority of workers, doing jobs shunned by Thais. Fishermen are in especially high demand, working long hours for low wages, often risking life and limb to keep consumers around the world supplied with seafood..."|
|Author/creator:|| ||Kyaw Thein Kha|
|Source/publisher:|| ||"The Irrawaddy" Vol. 18, No. 9|
|Date of entry/update:|| ||08 September 2010|
|Title:|| ||Sickening’ Film on Plight of Burmese Migrant Fishermen
|Date of publication:|| ||November 2008|
|Description/subject:|| ||A documentary film showing how Burmese seamen aboard Thai fishing boats are abused, beaten and even murdered is now available for viewing on the Internet...
"The 10-minute film, titled “Abandoned, not Forgotten,” was released on the official Web site of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITWF), whose General Secretary, David Cockcroft, described it as “a sometimes sickening but very necessary addition to the evidence that many Burmese citizens forced to flee their country are being appallingly treated.”..."|
|Source/publisher:|| ||International Transportworkers' Federation via "The Irrawaddy" Vol. 16, No. 11|
|Alternate URLs:|| ||http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=deCo_ZBSk-U|
|Date of entry/update:|| ||16 November 2008|
|Title:|| ||The Mekong Challenge - Underpaid, Overworked and Overlooked: The realities of young migrant workers in Thailand: Vol. 2 (3) - The Fishing Sector
|Date of publication:|| ||13 December 2006|
4.1 Indications of labour exploitation
The findings clearly show that being forced to work
is not uncommon in the fishing sector. About a fifth
of migrants have either previously experienced being
forced to work or are currently being forced to work.
Migrants working on fishing boats, female workers in
fish processing and children tend to experience forced
labour more than male workers in fish processing
and adult workers in general. The findings show
that employment aboard fishing vessels often means
working in extremely poor conditions, far worse than
those in the fish processing sector. It is no surprise
that migrant workers who are being forced to work
are more likely to end up working aboard fishing
boats. Being undocumented makes migrants even
more vulnerable to forced labour.
Physical and verbal abuse by employers is common
in the fishing sector, and alarmingly this seems to be
more commonly faced by child workers (aged under
15). While migrants work under poor conditions,
almost half of them feel they can't leave their job
because of certain constraints, mostly relating to fear
of arrest by the police. Migrants under 15 years of age
pointed to such constraints to a greater degree than
adult migrants. Somewhat surprisingly, registered
migrants feel there are more constraints preventing
them from leaving their current employment than
unregistered migrants. About two fifths of registered
migrants fear arrest by the authorities if they leave
their job. This implies that being registered does not
help all migrants feel any safer.
The fact that up to two thirds of registered migrants
do not have control over their documents explains
in part why registered migrants are still worried
about getting arrested. Keeping hold of the originals
of migrants' documents not only reflects a means
through which employers can prevent workers from
switching jobs, but it also highlights employers'
ignorance of the right migrants have to hold onto
their own documents. Some employers who keep
migrants' documents openly said they did not want
migrants to act, "as if they were Thai nationals who
could independently go anywhere, or leave their jobs
if they are not happy with them". This clearly shows
that many employers feel migrants should not be
treated the same as Thai nationals. It is consistent
with the results from the survey, which show that only
half of the employers surveyed agree that migrants
should have the same rights as Thai workers...
4.2 Legal status and registration
A migrant worker's legal status does not fully
guarantee his or her safety from exploitation at
the destination, however, it does, to a large extent,
reduce the possible scope of exploitation. Being
undocumented, for example, appears to increase the
chance that a migrant worker would be exploited at
Studies reveal that compared to registered migrants,
unregistered (undocumented) migrant workers
tend to receive lower wages, work for longer hours,
start work earlier and have less rest time than their
documented counterparts. A far higher proportion of
migrants employed on fishing boats are unregistered
than those employed in fish processing. They live
and work in vulnerable conditions party because of
their undocumented status.
Although both employers and migrants in general
have positive attitudes regarding registration,
there are a number of difficulties. Migrants cross
the border into Thailand all the time, however,
the registration period is fixed. Therefore, hiring
undocumented migrants is still common since
employers need to hire workers and migrants are
readily available to work, no matter what their
legal status happens to be. Although arranging for
registration is the employers' responsibility, some
employers seem to be ignoring this important step.
As for migrants, it is not clear whether migrants
are fully aware that this step is the responsibility of
their employers. Nevertheless, knowing their rights
and the employer's responsibility does not guarantee
that migrants' rights will be fulfilled as the migrant
workers are unlikely to act without strong support
from the Thai government...
4.3 Working conditions
Most migrants work in very poor conditions. They
work for 12 hours on average, start working early,
even before 4 am on days when there is a heavy
workload, and almost half only get half an hour or
less break time per day. While almost 80% have
regular days off per month, less than a tenth are paid
for these days off. Given the nature of the work in
the fishing sector, it is understandable that some
migrants may need to start working very early,
however, working such long hours should be deemed
unacceptable, as should night work for children.
About a fifth of migrants work over 15 hours a day,
which is intolerable for a normal person.
As well as long working hours, evidently the minimum
wage is not commonly applied when hiring migrant
workers. In addition, if migrant labourers work for
more than eight hours a day, this does not guarantee
they receive wages at a rate above the minimum.
More than half the migrant workers who work for
more than eight hours a day still receive less than
the minimum wage. Migrant workers employed on
fishing boats receive particularly low rates of pay.
Most jobs for migrant workers in the fishing sector
are insecure due to variable work schedules and pay
methods, such as profit-based systems or piece rates.
Most migrant workers are treated the same as casual
workers with no benefits.
Migrants employed on fishing boats clearly work
in inferior conditions, in nearly all aspects, when
compared with migrants employed in fish processing.
Jobs on fishing boats are less attractive than in fish
processing factories because the nature of work is
tough, dangerous and it is lonely being far away
from family. Fishing boat employers explained that
they often had to take desperate steps to try and
recruit workers, despite offering incentives, such
as payments in advance. Despite such incentives,
it still seems as though jobs aboard fishing vessels
are the "last resort" for migrant workers. In light of
this, migrants working aboard fishing vessels may
be those who have nowhere else to go, or those who
have fewer job opportunities, such as unregistered
migrants or child workers. This could easily force
these workers into more vulnerable situations than
other migrant workers...
4.4 Child labour
Most of the children in this survey seem to be working
under the "worst forms" of child labour. Work on
fishing boats by its very nature may be considered a
worst form and therefore should not be performed by
children under the age of 17 years in accordance with
ILO Convention 182.
In fish processing, where children work for long hours
or start before 6am, this might also be considered
a worst form of child labour. Otherwise, under
regulated conditions, children aged 15 and over
may work in fish processing factories. Addressing
the worst forms of child labour in the fishing sector
needs an immediate response. Migrants under the
age of 15 made up 15% of the fishing sample despite
the fact that this contravenes Thai labour law (and
the ILO Convention 138 on Minimum Age which
Thailand has ratified).
Although very few employers openly admit they prefer
to employ children, employers implicitly expressed
a preference to hire children because they are fast
workers, obedient and cheaper than adult migrants.
While employers see the benefits of hiring younger
migrants, they do not fully see the responsibilities.
Some employers do not view child workers as "real"
workers, but more as children simply helping out
their parents. However, the migrant survey clearly
shows children are not simply acting in support roles.
In fishing, children are working even longer hours
than adult workers whilst receiving less support and
4.5 Support mechanisms
At destination, family and relatives are central
support figures for most migrants, this is especially
the case for child workers and migrants employed in
fish processing. Migrants employed on board fishing
boats depend more on their workmates and friends
and less on family members and relatives. This is due
to the unique physical environment of working on
fishing boats and spending long periods at sea.
Attaining a better education may help reduce the risk
for migrants of being trafficked. However, migrant
children have few prospects to attend school while
working in Thailand given their long daily working
hours. Very few migrants currently attend school
and less than a fifth of migrants reported that their
employers permit child workers to attend school.
In Thailand, part of a solution to address the
isolation facing migrants has been for NGOs to tap
into and strengthen migrants' sense of community.40
However, very few migrants working in the fishing
sector currently participate in any type of group in
their community. Encouraging migrants to be part
of a community organization might be worth further
exploration because most migrants express an interest
in joining a group or club, particularly with regard
to the subject of health issues.|
|Language:|| ||English, Thai|
|Source/publisher:|| ||International Labour Organisation|
|Format/size:|| ||pdf (English - 524K; Thai - 554K)|
|Alternate URLs:|| ||http://www.ilo.org/public/english/region/asro/bangkok/child/trafficking/downloads/vol2-fishing-thai...|
|Date of entry/update:|| ||03 May 2008|
|Title:|| ||Trawling Troubles
|Date of publication:|| ||November 2004|
|Description/subject:|| ||Life on a Thai fishing boat isn’t all plain sailing for Burmese crews...
"When 29-year old Win San signed on as a boatswain on a Thai fishing trawler he looked forward to a profitable voyage in the Andaman Sea off the coast of his native Burma. Instead, he ended up in an Indonesian jail, accused of illegally fishing in that country’s waters.
Saphan Plah wharf (upgrading) where Burmese enter into Ranong.
Win San was held for one month, then deported to Thailand. It could have been worse—the skipper of the boat, his assistant and chief engineer, all Thais, were sentenced to two years in prison.
Win San’s experience is typical of the hazards faced by Burmese migrants who work in the fishing industry based in the southern Thai port Ranong, just across the Pachan River from Burma’s Victoria Point (Kawthaung)..."|
|Author/creator:|| ||Aung Lwin Oo|
|Source/publisher:|| ||"The Irrawaddy" Vol. 12, No. 10|
|Date of entry/update:|| ||31 January 2005|