THANK THE THAI GOVERNMENT  The Thai Government released on 30 November 2018 that they will ratify the International Labour Organization (ILO) Work in Fishing Convention No. 188, 2007 (C188). This will elevate the standard of labour protection onboard fishing vessels to be in line with the international standard. It will also reduce the risk of labours falling into forced labour situations. C188 was created to ensure decent work for fishing workers, including setting the maximum working hours, ensuring quality of accommodation, food, drinking water and medical care, as well as carrying out inspections of working and living conditions on board the vessels.  There have been great struggles to get worker voice and collective bargaining for migrant workers in Thailand. This has not only disempowered the migrant workers but also increased their vulnerability to be trafficked and caught in slavery/forced labour. Human Rights workers in NGO’s have also been sued for defamation when they release findings from their research into human rights abuses on boats, in factories and prawn farms. It is a key form of harassment and makes for costly lawyer fees to defend themselves as well as overwhelming stress and anxiety.     Police General Adul Sangsingkeo, Minister of Labour of Thailand   We thank the Thai Government for announcing on November 30th that they will ratify the International Labour Organization (ILO) Work in Fishing Convetion No. 188, 2007 (C188). We congratulate you on b ring the first Asian nation to do so.  As the Convention is upheld, we hope it will elevate the standard of protection aboard Thai fishing vessels for fishing workers.   We would also respectfully ask that the Thai Government consider granting migrant workers the rights to form independent trade unions.  We know the Thai Government has stated they don’t agree with NGO’s being sued for defamation when they release media reports and research regarding human rights. We also respectfully ask that the Thai Government change the sections of the litigation/fraud laws which enable this.  We want to keep on purchasing Thai seafood products and these changes will give us peace that Thailand is developing and give us confidence to help support this by buying Thai seafood.

The Thai Government released on 30 November 2018 that they will ratify the International Labour Organization (ILO) Work in Fishing Convention No. 188, 2007 (C188). They will be the first Asian nation to do so.

This will elevate the standard of labour protection onboard fishing vessels to be in line with the international standard. It will also reduce the risk of labours falling into forced labour situations. C188 was created to ensure decent work for fishing workers, including setting the maximum working hours, ensuring quality of accommodation, food, drinking water and medical care, as well as carrying out inspections of working and living conditions on board the vessels.

      How to reduce slavery in seafood supply chains 

   
     
       
        Portside tuna unloading from a refrigerated cargo and trading vessel (reefer) in Thailand, 2013.
          Trevor Ward ,  Author provided  
       
   

  Trevor J Ward ,   University of Technology Sydney   

 Seafood is one of the most-traded foods in the world. The sector employs at least  260 million workers globally , and some 3 billion people rely on seafood as a  primary source of protein . 

 The US  State Department  and other  credible sources  have consistently identified the seafood sector as a significant contributor to the global incidence of modern slavery. Widespread forced labour has been reported in the seafood industry in 47 countries. 

 Part of the problem is that global seafood supply chains are long and complex. That’s why my colleagues and I have developed a five-stage framework, published today in  Science Advances , that identifies the risk for specific products, all the way from ocean or  farm to the supermarket shelf. 

 What slavery might look like 

 Companies can’t always be sure they’re buying and selling products that have been produced without forced labour. A single catch of fish may be caught in one country, processed in another and repackaged in a third before being shipped somewhere else for sale.  

 Some  65-70%  of exported seafood is produced in developing countries where labour costs are relatively low. Work in distant water fleets, aquaculture areas and processing hubs can be highly appealing to the rural poor, who may have limited local job opportunities.  

 Getting to these jobs, however, often requires migration and using labour brokers.  

 In fishing, labour brokers supply a mix of professional crew from seafaring nations as well as less-skilled and lower-cost crew. Vessels are physically isolated, with working hours determined by ocean conditions and the round-the-clock duties needed to keep a ship operating safely. Payment for work is often a share of the catch value, based on seniority.  

 The less-skilled crew, who may not speak their colleagues’ language or have any legal standing in the vessel’s flag state, are vulnerable to involuntary and unpaid work. This is particularly the case where the direct employer is a distant labour agent, rather than the vessel’s owner.  

 Nonetheless, vulnerable conditions alone do not dictate forced labour. Fishing wages provide dignified livelihoods and an escape from poverty for millions of fishers and crew operating in many remote fisheries. 

 Five steps to reducing slavery 

 How can we unravel these complex strands to identify slavery? Given the complex international nature of the trade, private companies have an important role to play alongside national regulations.  

 This is why we developed the five-point Labour Safe Screen. Four of these components are designed to identify the risk of slavery:  

 
 product screening for country-level origins and standing on forced labour in seafood 
 a template for mapping the supply chain 
 an algorithm for estimating risk in fishing operations 
 surveys for collecting proof of protective conditions in the workplace. 
 

 The fifth component is a set of principles for minimum protective conditions in the workplace.  

 
               
             
               Field-tested principles for minimum conditions to protect workers from forced labour. 
                Author provided  
             
           

 Eighteen companies participated in our study and most carry hundreds of seafood products. We developed a tiered approach for screening a large number of their products, with quantitative scoring for persistent risks moving upstream into the supply chain and the workplace. 

 The majority of human rights data on forced labour in seafood production is available at the country level. While this provides a starting point for risk assessment, extrapolation to a particular product can be misleading.  

 We found that by triangulating industry and human rights data (from proprietary and public data sources), our framework allowed traders to identify the “pinch” points in their supply lines. They could then pinpoint labour risks where corrective actions could be most efficiently focused. 

 This approach captures data for each workplace as a product moves through the supply chain, transcending national domains and trans-shipping issues.  

 The results give traders the tools to identify areas where working conditions are either acceptable, unknown or inadequate.  

 Although risk-based due diligence does not guarantee that a product is free from forced labour, it does allow screening of large numbers of products. It can also focus attention on the most urgent points for remedial steps.  

 Ultimately, regulatory oversight is the main ingredient for low risk and makes it easier to focus on minimum protective work conditions. So in situations where the regulatory systems are strict and enforced (as in Australia), then minimum standards are likely to prevail and forced labour is likely to be a low risk. 

 Ideally, robust risk assessment should be part of a multi-pronged strategy for sustainable and socially responsible seafood. As part of this, we should always include ways to hear directly from workers and their organisations at the front line. 

   

 

  The work described here was jointly undertaken by the authors of the Science Advances paper, including  prizewinning front-line workers  active in the rescue of seafood workers.  

  Katrina Nakamura (lead author for the Science Advances paper) assisted with the development of this article.     

   Trevor J Ward , Adjunct professor,   University of Technology Sydney    

 This article is republished from  The Conversation  under a Creative Commons license. Read the  original article .

Seafood is one of the most-traded foods in the world. The sector employs at least 260 million workers globally, and some 3 billion people rely on seafood as a primary source of protein.

The US State Department and other credible sources have consistently identified the seafood sector as a significant contributor to the global incidence of modern slavery. Widespread forced labour has been reported in the seafood industry in 47 countries.

Some of this seafood we will eat this Christmas.

The New Pledge: Time to End Forced and Child Labour In Turkmenistan

The New Pledge: Time to End Forced and Child Labour In Turkmenistan

In 2011, STOP THE TRAFFIK asked Australia’s fashion retailers to sign a pledge to stop knowingly buying cotton sourced from Uzbekistan. We also asked the public to stay informed on this issue and be part of the process of support for companies who did so. Countless companies signed the pledge and the positive steps now being taken in Uzbekistan cotton fields are a sign of its might. However, it is important to continue the pressure, and a new battle-line must be drawn, turning to a pledge against the cotton coming from Turkmenistan.

Protesters March on United Nations for Free Speech and an End to Forced Labour

Protesters March on United Nations for Free Speech and an End to Forced Labour

Protest rallies in the streets of America have become an image we have gotten used to in the last year, but one this week in New York has not received the same amount of public attention as many others in the United States. On October 4th, thousands of protesters gathered outside the United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York to demand the end of state sponsored forced labour in Turkmenistan’s cotton industry. The demonstrators presented a petition signed by 84,000 people from across the world to urge the Turkmen government to immediately release Gaspar Matalaev.

No More Child Labour In Uzbekistan Cotton Fields?

No More Child Labour In Uzbekistan Cotton Fields?

Through September, Uzbekistan (Uzbek), who exports 10% of the worlds cotton, making up 20% of the country’s total trade output[1], complete their cotton harvest. Uzbekistan has spent years being accused of both child labour and forced labour abuses during their cotton harvest. Uzbekistan appears to have used state sponsored forced labour, where civil servants such as teachers and doctors, as well as thousands of school children have been forced to be part of the cotton-picking process. Uzbekistan has faced international pressure due to the prevalence of this state sponsored forced labour, and has outwardly shown to try to improve the situation. Due to this, the US Department of Labor (USDOL) has moved to take Uzbekistan off of their Child Labor watch list, but they will remain on the Forced Labor list.


[1] International Cotton Advisory Committee, ‘Cotton This Week’, https://www.icac.org/cotton_info/publications/samples/weekly_estimates/8february05.pdf (2005)

Aussie fashion’s safety shame

Aussie fashion’s safety shame

On the eve of the fifth anniversary of the tragic Rana Plaza factory collapse, leading Australian clothing brands that have stubbornly and shamefully refused to sign a critical safety accord are being urged to live up to their responsibilities.

Fighting for a Living Income for Cocoa Farmers

Fighting for a Living Income for Cocoa Farmers

Our new pop-up site https://traffikfreechocolate.com.au is full of interesting facts, activities and suggestions on making a difference in child labour and trafficking in the cocoa growing communities. This year’s Easter chocolate campaign stresses the importance of a living income. The ask to chocolate companies is to ensure that they are working towards insuring all cocoa farmers a living income. This is a factor that could be monumental in ending child labour in the cocoa farming communities, but what is a living income, why do we need it, and what can you do to help?

The Seven Signs of Certification

The Seven Signs of Certification

At STOP THE TRAFFIK we believe that slave-free chocolate is a possibility for this generation. For the last 10 years we have been asking chocolate companies to use third party certification. This means having an independent certifier review the chocolate companies to ensure a ‘zero-tolerance’ standard on child labour, training for certified farmers in child protection and child protection monitoring at a community level. These certifiers help to accountability and assurance that the companies are adhering to best practices and a code of conduct.