CHIANGRAI TIMES – Samut Sakhon governor Junlaphat Sangchan has vowed to crack down on child labour in seafood processing facilities to avoid a possible export ban.
Mr Junlaphat said yesterday that his province is determined to tackle child labour problems and such efforts would prevent Thailand from being banned from exporting shrimps, he added.
The governor expressed his commitment at a meeting to discuss child labour in Samut Sakhon yesterday.
The participants include 600 seafood processing plants, concerned officials, US embassy official Amy McGann, and Cheunchom Thongyen, representative of the International Labour Organisation.
Mr Junlaphat said the country’s big seafood exporters must monitor their processing houses to ensure they abide by the laws.
Thailand has been on the United States’ Tier 2 Watch List for Human Trafficking since 2009 because its efforts to tackle and prosecute human trafficking gangs have been deemed insufficient.
Thailand could be at risk of facing international trade sanctions if it does not manage to free itself of the listing.
Anusorn Kraiwatnussorn, an assistant to the labour minister, said the ministry is considering reducing procedure expenses so manufacturers can afford to employ workers lawfully.
Apichit Prasoprat, head of the Federation of Thai Industries for Samut Sakhon, said the shrimp export business in the province could be at risk if the problem of child workers drags on.
The 1998 Labor Protection Act stipulates that the children aged over 15 are allowed to work but only if conditions are suitable.
“If workers present evidence that they are over 15, we cannot prohibit them from working,” a source said.
However, some lied about their age in their personal documents, he added.
The source also said some families in Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos send their underage children to work in Thailand despite knowing the age limit.
They try to doctor the personal documents to make their ages fit with the regulations, the source said, adding that some also bribed local authorities for permission to work in Thailand.