Thailand and Qatar downgraded for workers’ rights abuses

27 Jun 2014

270614_Thai fishing vessel

The ITF applauded the action taken over modern-day slavery in Thailand and Qatar as the US downgraded both countries on its human trafficking watchlist. The US State Department has relegated Thailand to the lowest possible rung, while Qatar hovers just one level above.

The ITF has campaigned recently on worker rights in both of these countries. Back in May 2013, the ITF was one of the complainants in a submission to the International Labour Organization (ILO) on the Thai government’s dismissal of railway workers striking over safety concerns. The ILO responded on June 13 2014, highlighting the gap between Thai national law and international minimum standard. It recommended that all railway workers be reinstated and compensated for lost wages and benefits.

The ITF is also working with sister global union federation the IUF (International Union of Food, Agricultural and Hospitality Workers) to improve workers’ rights along the fish supply chain with the From catcher to counter project. Thailand has come under fire recently for using slave labour in its prawn industry.

The ITF’s work to highlight conditions for workers at Qatar Airways has also been high profile – last September, it revealed a culture of surveillance and control over staff at the airline.

ITF acting general secretary Steve Cotton said: “We hope that both the Thai and Qatari governments will take note of this damning indictment by the US State Department. Our work to date has highlighted the drastic need for labour reform in both of these countries, and we’re pleased to see that the US government agrees with this assessment. Our main concern is workers’ rights, and we’ll continue the fight to make sure that conditions get better for workers everywhere.”