Fisheries industry remains hardest hit by labour shortage 

The fishery industry says the postponement of the foreign labour law will not help to resolve the acute shortage of foreign labour in the industry as now over 20,000 workers have returned homes since the law became effective.

This was disclosed by the president of the Samut Sakhon Frozen Food Association Kamchorn Mongoltrilaksana Tuesday (July 4).

He said now more than 2,000 seafood processing factories in the province are facing a severe labor shortage after no less than 20,000 Myanmar workers returned home since  the new rules went into effect, but deferred yesterday.

Samut Sakhon is the province where employment of migrant workforce in the fisheries industries is the highest.

He recalled that migrant workers who were given permission to work in the fisheries sector often chose to quit later and work in other more lucrative occupations.

But the new rules of the foreign labour law defined they are now illegally employed and as such a lot of them have left the country.

The intention of the new law  wants migrant workers to apply for valid permits and work in the place they are allocated so that there won’t have problems, he said.

He also said some foreign workers who have been working legally in Thailand in some cases more than 15 years are warning their countrymen to apply for valid work permits in and obey local laws so that they can work here without any worries.

Besides the difficulties being faced by fisheries factories, many fishing boat operators have also been unable to go to sea due to a severe shortage of workers.

Some factories now have resorted to hiring locals to work.

In many cases, some boats have remained in dock since 2015 when the government disallowed the registration for additional foreign workers.

As a consequence, there now remains only about 3,000 foreign workers working in fishing boats in the province.

The matter is further complicated by the fact that foreign workers who have been granted employment in the country under MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) agreements are allowed to work only as manual laborers or domestic help.

Meanwhile, president of the Thai Frozen Food Association Akhom Kruewan said the fisheries sector is petitioning the government to allow a new round of application for foreign workers to counter the labour shortage in the fisheries sector.

He said in the past a lot of foreign workers that were given permits to work in the fisheries sector had quit and went to work in factories, construction and other jobs instead which paid more money.

This resulted in a severe shortage of workers for the fisheries industry  which continues until today.

But he warned that the problem will worsen if the government does not allow a new round of registration workers for the fisheries sector, saying  more and more fishing boats will tie up at the piers.

Samut Sakhon province is one of the five provinces that employ the highest number of foreign workers in the country. Even though the government has invoked Section  44 of the Interim Constitution to postpone the enforcement of the new laws by 180 days, many feel that this is only a stop-gap solution that will not help local employers in any way.

Local industries and the fisheries sector in particular; will be keeping a close eye on developments to see what solutions can be found by the Ministry of Labor to solve the problem.