Thailand progress on underage workers

Thailand progress on underage workers

Progress has been made in solving the child labour problem in Thailand, an International Labour Organisation regional officer said.

Maurizio Bussi, an officer in charge of the ILO country office for Thailand, Cambodia and Laos, said Thailand has made significant improvements in solving the problem of child labour, particularly with children working in the shrimp and seafood processing industries.

The progress comes after Thailand ratified ILO convention No.182 on the elimination of the worst forms of child labour.

The ILO has worked with the Thai government and the Thai private sector to tackle the problem for more than two years, he said.

Convention No.182 establishes the framework to protect children from the worst forms of child labour, such as the sale and trafficking of children, and the procuring or offering of children for prostitution.

Mr Bussi also emphasised the need to set up a national database containing information and statistics about underage workers to solve the problem of child labour.

He said both the government and the private sector must work together to ensure progress in implementing measures to solve problems related to child labour abuse.

Apitchaya Nguanbanjong, an ILO official who assesses projects to help children working in the shrimp and seafood processing industries, said a study conducted between March and August last year, showed that more than 8,000 children, both from Thai and migrant workers' families, aged below 18, worked in these industries in Samut Sakhon, Surat Thani, Songkhla and Nakhon Si Thammarat.

Many of them had no access to education in Thailand because their parents are illegal immigrants and did not enrol their children in school for fear of arrest by police, she said.

Permanent secretary for labour Jirasak Sukhonthachart said the child labour situation in Thailand has improved while the US has listed Thailand as one of 10 nations which have made progress in solving child labour problems.

The minimum age for employment under the Labour Protection Act is 15, and workers aged 15-18 are allowed to do only non-hazardous jobs.

The US has included Thailand for four years in a row on its Tier 2 Watch List of goods and products produced by child or forced labour as defined by the US Labour Department.

The country risks being downgraded to Tier 3 in the next evaluation, possibly leading to a range of trade sanctions.

However, Thailand will continue to try to get itself off the Tier 2 Watch List, Mr Jirasak said.

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