Migrant workers working on a Thai boat, Samut Sakhon, Thailand. Photo: ILO in Asia and the Pacific, under creative commons licence.
Global pressure forces withdrawal of Thai prison labour plans
Campaigning has paid off again. Last week I blogged about a campaign we’d joined to stop the Thai Government’s plans to force prisoners to work in the notorious Thai fishing industry. Together with the ILO, unions and human rights campaigners have forced a U-turn by the military leaders who now control Thailand’s government. The Ministry of Labour has confirmed that the plans have been scrapped.
Of course, what with the Minister of Labour being an army General (they don’t like admitting defeat), the news was announced by a relatively anonymous government official, and there was a lot of havering about suggesting that the plan was just a way of re-integrating ex-prisoners back into the labour force.
And there were suggestions that the scheme had been going to be voluntary but that not enough prisoners came forward. But this was, despite all that face-saving, a victory for the campaign. And it doesn’t mean the Thai fishing industry is free of forced labour, either, as endemic problems persist. But for now, the industry is spared the additional abuse of prison labour.