Ministry mulls more protection for local, foreign fishery workers


Source: Myanmar Times 

Date: 09 April 2018

The government is hopeful that enactment of a marine fisheries law will better protect Myanmar citizens who are working in foreign fisheries, especially in Thailand, from exploitation by employers, a senior official said.

Union Minister for Labour, Immigration and Population U Thein Swe said the Myanmar Marine Fisheries Law that is being drafted will include provisions related to local and migrant fishery workers.

"The Department of Fisheries is writing the law. Matters related to fishery workers are going to be included so they can get protection from rules and regulations in the law," the union minister said in a recent workshop on the law held in Nay Pyi Taw.

Currently, the Myanmar Fisheries Federation is in discussion with relevant departments and organisations to ensure more protection for fishery workers abroad.

"It (the federation) needs to cooperate with relevant departments, organisations and civil society groups to reduce human trafficking and exploitation," U Thein Swe said.

A total of 41,125 Myanmar fishermen are working in Thailand, another 45,400 are employed in fishery-related industries, and 58,741 in marine product factories.

The Issara Institute, a Bangkok-based research and migrant workers rights advocacy organisation, which helped organise Tuesday's workshop, is conducting research and collecting data on human trafficking and exploitation.

Various studies have shown that workers in the Thai fishing industry are working in unsafe conditions and being forced to work, tortured by employers, work long hours, are being exploited, not being paid and at risk of human trafficking.

"We are discussing with Thailand and constantly watching the situation of these workers, as fishery workers are prone to abuse," U Thein Swe said.

"We offer training to them before they go to a workplace about staying in contact with family, and getting their full wages, healthcare, workplace accident insurance and life insurance," he added.

The Department of Fisheries is expected to submit the law to the Amyotha Hluttaw during the next session, according to U Win Myint, secretary of the Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Development Committee of the parliament.

"That bill hasn't reached the Hluttaw yet but may reach it in the coming session," he said.

If the government successfully implements fisheries services, it will no longer be necessary for Myanmar fishermen to work abroad, as they can work gainfully in Myanmar, U Win Myint added.

"Moreover, fishermen in other countries can come to Myanmar for jobs," he said.

The Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population has reached an agreement with Thailand to send Myanmar fishermen to the kingdom, and a bilateral working group has been formed to oversee implementation of the pact.

Myanmar is also considering sending fishery workers in South Korea as Seoul needs over 4,000 workers from Myanmar in its growing fishery sector.

Myanmar Water Journal - Edition 04-2018
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