Building a Rights Culture: How Workers can Lead Change in Thai Seafood

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Photo credit: MWRN

A joint publication by the International Labour Rights Forum (ILRF) and the Migrant Workers Rights Network (MWRN)

Egregious labor rights abuses, including forced labor and human trafficking, have been documented across Thailand’s seafood sector in dozens of reports over more than a decade. Recently, unprecedented international attention on Thailand’s seafood industry, particularly the plight of migrant workers who make up the majority of the workforce, has prompted a flurry of action from governments, exporters and Western brands that sell Thai seafood.
Despite the growing number of government and industry initiatives, migrant workers in Thailand remain as vulnerable to abuse as ever. New corporate supply chain monitoring programs are applying a failed CSR model that lacks genuine worker feedback and representation. Meanwhile, Thai labor law continues to prohibit migrant workers from organizing trade unions and thus seeking to bargain collectively with employers for better wages and working conditions.So even as global brands invest more resources into improving their monitoring initiatives, they are unlikely to achieve significant change to conditions on the ground, as the failures of the same model applied in other sectors have demonstrated. As long as workers do not have the power to hold employers and the global corporations that ultimately dictate prices accountable, these human rights abuses will continue.
ABOUT

International Labor Rights Forum is a human rights organization that advocates for workers globally. Our core work is three-fold:

1. We hold global corporations accountable for labor rights violations in their supply chains.
2. We advance policies and laws that protect workers.
3. We strengthen workers’ ability to advocate for their rights.

ILRF works with trade unions, faith-based organizations, and community groups to support workers and their families. We lead on initiatives such as making apparel factories safe in Bangladesh; stopping the exploitation of children in the cotton fields of Uzbekistan; increasing the income of farm workers in the cocoa fields of West Africa; developing labor law clinics in China; and supporting threatened union leaders in Latin America’s banana sector. ILRF’s work in Latin America carries forward the mission of the U.S. Labor Education in the Americas Project (USLEAP) and its founder Stephen Coats (1952-2013).

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Migrant Workers Rights Network (MWRN) was established in March 2009 to promote Rights of Myanmar Migrant Workers in Thailand. M.W.R.N is located in Samut Sakhon Province, Thailand, where over hundreds of thousands of Myanmar Migrant Workers working in the majority of seafood industries.
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