Trawler conflicts to be resolved
Labour Minister Adul Sangsingkeo has pledged to end conflicts with commercial trawlers before the country ratifies the International Labour Organisation's (ILO) Work in Fishing Convention, or C188, by the end of this month.
"We will spend one month speaking with affected groups. The permanent secretary will handle the discussion with representatives from commercial trawler groups in 22 coastal provinces. We expect a clear solution before we sign the treaty," Mr Adul told the Bangkok Post.
The move aims to solve conflicts after commercial trawlers protested against restrictions they would face after the government signed the C188 treaty with the ILO.
They have been protesting since December 2017, asking the government to drop the ratification.
Commercial trawler owners even went so far as to ask Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to apply the all-powerful Section 44 of the previous interim charter to revoke the ratification plan.
Their call was unmet. "The government will not change its plan to ratify C188 at the end of this month," Pol Gen Adul insisted.
However, the ministry will set up a committee to fine-tune fishery restrictions, hoping the opponents will eventually agree with the government before the ratification, said the labour minister.
Among the issues concerned is the new requirement to pay workers electronically, instead of handling cash.
"This issue alone causes trouble to both employers and employees," Phubet Chanthanimi, chairman of the Pattani Fisheries Association, said, adding payment methods are not strictly stated in the C188.
There are not many ATM booths near their workplaces, so they have to travel long distances, which means they incur expenses just to get paid, Mr Phubet said.
Opponents also raised doubts over the idea of paying public health officials for additional expenses concerning eye and ear examinations for fishing crews. All employees are already required to go for a physical check-up every year.
The ratification of C188 is among the state's efforts to gain trust from foreign importers of seafood products after the European Union yellow-carded, or gave a final warning to, Thailand in 2015 for illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.