Combating abuse of workers in Thailand
The Sept. 22 news article “In Thai shrimp sheds, exploited labor” unfairly sensationalized the issue of migrant labor in Thailand. Improving the welfare of migrant workers and combating human trafficking are high on Thailand’s agenda.
Through migrant-worker registration over the past several years, our law enforcers have become more aware of where these workers are and what risks they face. The Ministry of Labor inspects at-risk workplaces regularly and is working to raise awareness about the dangers of trafficking. The U.S. Labor Department has funded a project through the International Labor Organization to combat the worst forms of child labor in the shrimp- and seafood-processing areas of Thailand. After surveying four provinces at risk, few instances of child labor have been found.
Thailand’s Immigration Bureau is cooperating with relevant agencies to ensure that migrant workers are working legally in Thailand. More cases of human trafficking have been investigated and prosecuted. Thai agencies also work with nongovernmental organizations and international groups to protect workers.
It is impossible to deny that some instances of abuse continue to arise. But it is also misleading to suggest that the Thai shrimp industry is overrun by labor abuse. The overwhelming majority of the industry abides by the law and runs their businesses responsibly.
Arjaree Sriratanaban, Washington
The writer is minister counselor at Thailand’s embassy to the United States.