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