Western seafood buyers commit to improving labour conditions in Thai shrimp industry

2 June 2014

Western supermarkets and seafood importers have committed to improving working conditions in Thai shrimp industry at a multi stakeholder forum on labour conditions in the Thai fisheries industry organised by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Thai government. Fairfood International attended the event, together with a range of representatives from local and international NGOs, trade unions, migrant workers’ organisations, western shrimp buyers, industry representatives and the Thai government.

The multi-stakeholder forum resulted in a draft framework in which joint actions are laid out for the different stakeholders in order to improve labour conditions in the fisheries sector of Thailand. Fairfood is content that representatives from Western supermarkets and importers of seafood recognise that wages in the Thai seafood industry are not sufficient to meet workers’ basic needs, even if they are paid the minimum wage in accordance with Thai law. In addition, all stakeholders committed themselves to eradicating human rights abuses such as forced and child labour. Furthermore, it is positive that the event provided (migrant) workers with the opportunity to discuss their concerns with seafood buyers in the West.

Nevertheless, a lot still needs to be done to ensure that the Thai shrimp business becomes a thriving and sustainable industry for all. Fairfood is especially concerned about working conditions in ‘peeling sheds’, where undocumented migrant workers deveine, behead and peel the shrimp and work long hours for piece-rate pay (payment for each item that is produced). This is why Fairfood, together with other NGOs and workers’ organisations calls upon Western seafood buyers, the Thai seafood industry and the Royal Thai Government buyers to live up to their commitments. Read the Joint statement.