Thailand: Reform the Labor Relations Act to allow migrant workers the right to form their own unions

ภาษาไทย မြန်မာဘာသာစကား ភាសាខ្មែរ

Foreign migrant workers comprise the majority of those employed in the Thai seafood industry. This includes hundreds of thousands of young women and men who have come from Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos to work in commercial processing factories, on fishing vessels, and on farms. The seafood they catch and process is sold to international companies – this powers the Thai economy and puts food on the plates of people around the world. However, unlike Thai workers, foreign workers are, by law, explicitly denied their fundamental labor rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining. This is extremely problematic in migrant-dominated industries such as seafood processing and fishing. Thai law and the labor practices of Thai suppliers mean that migrant workers are blocked from doing the one thing most likely to improve working conditions or prevent abuse: building and leading their own unions. 

In August 2022, the Thai government announced that it had undertaken efforts to prevent human trafficking including the development of key laws related to migrant workers' rights to form a trade union. However, the Labor Relations Act (1975) remains on the books and prevents migrant workers from forming their own unions. Until this law is reformed, migrant workers remain at high risk of exploitation. 

Add your name to the below petition to the Prime Minister of Thailand:

To: H.E. Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister of Thailand

I write to add my voice to the growing calls from national unions, global union federations, the ILO, and other organizations concerned with business and human rights regarding the ongoing denial of migrant workers’ fundamental rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining. The explicit discrimination written into the Labor Relations Act has fostered a system of structural inequality that has kept migrant workers captive and exploited throughout enormously profitable labor sectors, including in the seafood industry. This places millions of migrants in jobs that fall short of minimum international labor standards. Severe exploitation of migrant workers in the seafood and other industries in Thailand continues despite three decades of legal reform.

The right to organize for migrant workers is particularly important during the Covid-19 pandemic. At this time, it is crucial for workers to have a legal organization and legitimate representatives with whom to communicate their concerns and problems to both their employer and government authorities. Employers and the government, too, need a clear channel to communicate with workers and their representatives regarding government directives and laws, health and safety precautions in the workplace, as well as changes to government service provision and employment arrangements and benefits, among other critical information.

The Thai Government must act urgently to: (1) reform Articles 88 and 101 of the Labor Relations Act (1975) to remove discrimination against foreign migrant workers and allow them the right to form their own unions and be eligible for election or appointment as a member of a union committee or sub-committee; and (2) publicly commit to ratifying ILO Conventions 87 and 98 and bring national laws in compliance with these internationally recognized, minimum labor standards.


H.E. Mr. Don Pramudwinai, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand

H.E. Mr. Juti Krairiksh, Minister of Social Development and Human Security

H.E. Mr. Suchart Chomklin, Minister of Labour

H.E. Mr. Jurin Laksanawisit, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Commerce

H.E. Dr. Chalermchai Sreeon, Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives

H.E. Mr. Manasvi Srisodapol, Ambassador of Thailand to the United States of America

Powered by Neon CRM  
Neon CRM by Neon One