Thai Seafood Industry Faces New Scrutiny Over Poor Working Conditions for Young Workers
A new report commissioned by the International Labor Organization (ILO) suggests adolescents working in Thailand’s important seafood industry face higher risk of injury and poor working conditions than adolescents working in other industries. Nearly one in five 15 to 17 year olds working in the industry reported suffering workplace injuries, compared to less than one in ten for other industries. Additionally, adolescents working in Thailand’s seafood industry are often subjected to wet and filthy conditions as part of their work. The report finds that almost ten percent of workers under the age of 18 are employed in the industry. Further, approximately 65 percent of all the under-18 workers surveyed for the report say that they do not possess an employment contract, which might otherwise protect them from abusive labor practices.
The threat to working conditions in Thailand is High, and the fishing industry’s heavy reliance on cheap, manual labor often puts vulnerable workers like adolescents and migrants at higher risk of facing harsh working conditions. The elevated rate of reported workplace injuries among young workers in the industry can be attributed to the higher frequency of adolescents handling dangerous materials such as fire or compressed gases without proper training or safety equipment. Additionally, the layered nature of the seafood supply chain often results in limited purchaser knowledge of conditions at facilities which supply seafood products, resulting in limited purchaser pressure to improve conditions for workers.