Ministry will conduct child labor survey to pre-empt problems

Thailand has been praised internationally for its major gains in eliminating child labor, but the Kingdom’s Ministry of Labor said last week it will launch a national survey to gauge where and how much child labor still exists so it can more effectively target its efforts eradicate the problem.

The survey, which will begin at the end of this month and run through February, will be regarded as a “national urgent issue,” said Minister of Labor Adul Sangsingkeo. His ministry will work with the National Statistical Office and the International Labor Organization (ILO) of the United Nations to conduct the survey. With better information, the government can better concentrate its efforts and resources to solve the problem.

Child labor still exists in Thailand, but the country has made strong progress in addressing the issue. In its 2017 report on the situation, the United States Department of Labor (DoL) said that in the previous year “Thailand made a significant advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor.”

The Bangkok Post newspaper reported at the time that “last year only 10 victims were illegally hired out of 42,000 workplaces inspected.”

The DoL credited the Thai government with amending laws to increase penalties for adults who use children in criminal acts, and for establishing a task force to investigate crimes involving the commercial sexual exploitation of children, including sexual exploitation and crimes on the internet.

The report said that, although commendable, Thailand’s efforts were hampered  by the number of inspectors to find all the violations that may be taking place and those inspectors need better training.

Labor Minister Adul said the survey will further demonstrate that the Kingdom is committed to eliminating the worst forms of child labor. This is essential not only for the welfare of the children, but also to reassure trading partners, consumers and others that Thai goods are free of forced and exploited child labor in their production.

An ILO survey found that globally there are an estimated 512 million children who are working and that 19 million of them are engaged in dangerous work.