“Permanent Secretary” Reports 14 Guidelines Concluded from Discussions with Fishing Associations

At a meeting of the working group to improve criteria for implementation following C188 on Work in Fishing, the Permanent Secretary of Labour reported the conclusions on demands made by fishermen; all 14 proposals will be made to the Labour Minister with discussions with fishing associations from the 22 coastal provinces again on January 24th.

On January 8, 2019, Permanent Secretary of Labour, Mr. Jarin Chakkaphark chaired a working group meeting to improve criteria for implementation in accordance with ILO Convention No. 188 on Work in Fishing (2007) to address the problem of redundancy and the effects of the enforcement of existing fishing laws in accordance with the context in Thailand and sustainable fishing. Relevant agencies such as all departments under the Ministry of Labour, Department of Fisheries, the Marine Department, the Department of Medical Services and the Command Center for Combating Illegal Fishing (CCCIF), together considered the guidelines for resolutions to the demands of the 22 fishing associations from coastal provinces at the Prasong Rananant Meeting Room, 5th Floor, Ministry of Labour Building. The meeting concluded with 14 key points under the ILO Convention 188 as follows:

1) The rate of contribution to the compensation fund and refunds from the fund if the employee does not complete a year was considered. The solution was for vessel owners to pay contributions to the fund once a year, shall be calculated from wages paid by the employer to all employees in the year x the contribution rate of the fishing businesses at 0.2 percent. If the fishing workers do not complete the year, vessel owners can request a refund if the actual paid is less than the amount assessed for contribution.

2) The opportunity to buy health insurance from the Ministry of Public Health along with private insurance, substituting registration into the social security system was considered. The solution was to register for social security by paying monthly contributions together with vessel owners at the rate of 0.5 percent of wages; workers shall be protected in 3 cases (lack of income from illness, disability and death). In case of illness, workers can buy health insurance from The Ministry of Public Health along with private insurance but must not be below the set standard.

3) The definition of “fishing vessels for commercial fishing” is unclear whether local fishing boats are included under new law enforcement or not. The solution was to issue announcements from the Department of Fisheries to determine the size of ships exempt from compliance with The Labor Protection in Fisheries Act BE …. which is not applicable to local fishing boats or vessels under 10 GT or ships that employ less than 5 workers.

4) Guidelines and types of vessels that require a boat inspection certificate was considered. The solution was to announce ships required to be certified for living conditions on fishing vessels every 5 years without charge. This would apply to vessels that have been fishing for more than 3 days and have a length of 26.5m or more, or boats that have been fishing for more than 3 days and sailing over 200 nautical miles; there are currently 209 vessels that this applies to. The Marine Department is to make clear details for inspections of living conditions in the vessels and outline issues to be examined.

5) Accommodation arrangements on fishing boats applicable to certain types and sizes of vessels were considered. The solution was guidelines from the Marine Department regarding criteria, procedures and conditions relating to accommodation on fishing boats enforced on new vessels weighing 300 tons and over, or ships modified by expanding vessel size to 300 tons or more; there are currently 120 vessels that this applies to, of which 68 are fishing vessels.

6) Suitability of the quantity/quality of food and beverages was considered. The solution was to void the provisions of Article 16 of the Ministerial Regulation Concerning Labour Protection in the Sea Fishery Sector B.E. 2557 regarding food and drinking water, do not overlap with the Department of Fisheries’ Ministerial Regulation Concerning Health and Welfare of Labour in Fishing B.E. 2559. The suitability of food and drink is to have sufficient quantity and quality following the conditions and ways of fishing in Thailand.

7) The opportunity for people aged 16 years and older to be trained in fishing boats was considered. The solution was for amendments to be made to the Ministerial Regulation Concerning Labour Protection in the Sea Fishery Sector B.E. 2557 and the National Committee to announce the elimination of child labour in worst forms, to extend the opportunity for Thai nationals under 16 years to have the opportunity to train on fishing vessels.

8) Importing workers according to the MOU takes a long-time and expenses are on the employer only, causing foreign workers to have no responsibility which often results in workers fleeing to new employers. The solution was to enforce laws on the management of foreign worker, prescribing guidelines for preventing foreign workers to flee to other employers.

9) The disagreement on the Ministry of Public Health to charge extra for eye and ear examinations, and the formation for a manual/guideline for patients was considered. The solution was for the original medical certificate to be used until it expires. As for the new medical certificate, additional ear and eye examination shall be provided without additional charge (as the original 500 Baht). Patients shall be allowed to have checkups in either public or private hospitals, or clinics certified by the Department of Medical Services (the cost of the examinations may be determined for private hospital/clinics). This medical certificate can be used to submit applications for various licenses among relevant agencies such as work permits/seabook/seaman books. A manual shall be prepared for patients for use on vessels.

10) The calculation of resting hours inconsistent with the working conditions on the fishing boats, whereby some PIPO centers checked hours and stayed for 10 consecutive hours was considered. The solution was for amendments to the Ministerial Regulation Concerning Labour Protection in the Sea Fishery Sector B.E. 2557 to require that fishing vessels be released with a minimum rest time of 10 hours in 24 hours and 77 hours over 7 days. The Department of Labour Protection and Welfare/CCCIF shall notify the guidelines to officers at the PIPO center to count any breaks during the period not less than what the law states, including both breaks on land and in the sea.

11) The request to correct redundancy of laws relevant to the list of crews members were considered. The solution was for the Department of Labour Protection and Welfare to amend the Ministerial Regulation Concerning Labour Protection in the Sea Fishery Sector B.E. 2557 by holding the list of crew members in accordance with the law on navigation in Thai waters, the Marine Department to hold regulations on the criteria for allowing primary work on fishing vessels, and the Department of Fisheries to hold the list of crew members according to the laws of the Marine Department.

12) The unclarity in the determination of manpower according to the size of the vessel and the problem of the number of crew members not being fully informed to the Port Out, causing vessels unable to fish was considered. The solution was for the Marine Department and Department of Fisheries to jointly determine the rate of manpower appropriate for fishing vessels, including the CCCIF to consider criteria for allowing vessels to fish as necessary/deemed fit in the event that the number of crew members does not match what was reported to the Port Out online, at least 1 hour before the vessel is scheduled to fish.

13) The issue for conditions sending workers back to the country of origin whereby employers should not be responsible for expenses, especially in cases where the employee is at fault was considered. The solution was for cases that the worker is in breach of contract or voids the contract itself without reasonable grounds, or the employer is not at fault the worker shall be responsible for the costs of returning.

And 14) The issue of paying wages through bank accounts/ATMs that create a burden for employers/employees, whereby it was proposed for laws to be amended to allow payment in cash and advanced payments. The solution was for the Department of Labour Protection and Welfare to consider offering guidelines to modify the Ministerial Regulation Concerning Labour Protection in the Sea Fishery Sector B.E. 2557 (version 2) Section 76 to discuss with employees and employers in the fishing sector.

The Ministry of Labour will bring the conclusions to the Minister of Labour and will be scheduled to hold a meeting with fishing associations in the 22 coastal provinces again on January 24.

Source: Ministry of Labour