Thailand will ratify ILO convention on forced labor


As part of its comprehensive campaign to protect workers and combat human trafficking, Thailand announced it will ratify the International Labor Organization’s Convention on Forced Labor at the United Nations agency’s conference in June, while the government also relaxed regulations to allow migrant laborers to work in more types of jobs than before.

“In all, this protocol will help raise Thailand’s standards of labor protection to the international level,” Minister of Labor Adul SangSingkeo told members of the National Legislative Assembly before the body voted to ratify the convention.

For years, the government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has launched a wide-ranging effort to improve labor standards and combat human trafficking. Laws have been amended or passed, inspections and enforcement increased, partnerships established with international agencies and civil society groups, and international conventions signed.

The International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Convention on Forced Labor requires more than merely a signature; it demands that signatory countries develop and implement clear laws and policies designed to prevent and suppress forced labor, create significant penalties for violators, and implement and enforce the policies. It also requires governments to provide protection and rehabilitation for victims.

Adul said the government would work harder to educate employers about this issue as well as employees and society as a whole about labor rights and other rights.

Thailand has ratified more than a dozen ILO conventions in recent decades with a view to ensuring worker rights and safety. They include the original Forced Labor Convention in 1969. What was ratified last week was a 2014 Protocol that essentially updates the original convention to take into account changing conditions and other developments.

Other conventions ratified by Thailand include the conventions on the Worst Forms of Child Labor, Minimum Age, Maritime Labor, and the Promotional Framework for Occupational Health and Safety.

Meanwhile the Ministry of Labor loosened regulations on migrant workers last week, freeing up 12 occupations formerly reserved only for Thai workers to allow migrants to also work in those jobs. That creates more opportunities for the migrants while also expanding the labor pool for employers.

Among the jobs now open to migrants are bricklaying, carpentry and other construction jobs, along with dressmaking, architecture and civil engineering.