20 August 2021
HRDF and alliance submitting letter to Provincial Governor of Phuket Opposing the Phuket Provincial Authority Order on restrictions of fishing workers in commercial boats in Phuket
On 15 August 2021, the Provincial Governor of Phuket invoked Sections 22, 34 and 35 of the Communicable Diseases Act and the Regulation issued by virtue of the Emergency Decree on Public Administration in the State of Emergency 2005 with approval of the Phuket Communicable Disease Committee according to the meeting resolution no. 48/2564 to sign the Phuket Provincial Authority Order no. 4623/2564 on “Restrictions of fishing workers on commercial boats in Phuket”. Several restrictions have been issued to control fishing workers employed in commercial vessels in Phuket including;
- Barring fishing workers from getting in and out of the boats in which they work, except when traveling to work in the boats or other fishing related activities
- Confining fishing workers to the fishing vessels or the fishing ports in which they work
- Quarantining fishing workers who are risk groups on board the fishing vessels which have since been converted to field hospitals to ensure concerned authorities can conduct the Covid-19 testing. The bubble and seal disease control measure shall be imposed upon the identification of any infection on board. Captains of fishing vessels are obliged to ensure the implementation of the measures and other orders by the Phuket Provincial Authority.
- Anyone who breaches or violates the order shall be punishable by an imprisonment or a fine or both.
In addition, the Administrative Procedure Act 1996’s Section 30 paragraph 2 (1) is invoked to prevent concerned parties from challenging the order even though they are affected by the administrative order since it is a matter of urgency and if not addressed immediately, it shall elicit a material damage to any person or public interest.
The Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF) and the Migrant Working Group (MWG), as civil society organizations working to assist fishing workers and promoting relief activities and an education for the prevention of the Covid-19 outbreak among the workers and their community, find that during the outbreak of Covid-19, it might not be appropriate to use fishing vessels for quarantine purpose. It is not possible to rearrange the internal environment of the vessels to ensure sanitation of the infected persons in terms of the toilets, sleeping places, social distancing, and waste management. There is also a lack of clarity as to access to medical care of the fishing workers and how they can reach out to help from concerned agencies. Without prompt access to medical treatment, the conditions of the infected workers may get much worse. In addition, by preventing the boats from being laid ashore, it may likely subject fishing workers to longer working hours and less time for rest. It also puts them outside legal protection and may subject them to labour rights violation.
Given the situation and the measures imposed, HRDF is therefore concerned about the Phuket Provincial Authority Order no. 4623/2564 and have these recommendations for concerned agencies to promptly address the problems.
- Fishing workers should be entitled to freedom of movement upon the completion of their work. They should be accorded with freedom of movement equal to other residents in the same province.
- If any worker on a commercial vessel is found to be at risk, the state should designate spaces at the fishing port for quarantine rather than to have the quarantine on board the fishing vessel without isolating between infected persons and persons with high-risk contact. A system should be put in place for infected persons to have access to medical treatment. As far as we know, there is no detail in the bubble & seal policy to help the workers for example, if the worker is employed in a factory or a construction site.
- By nature of their work, fishing workers are subject to frequent movement and thus belong to risk groups. Therefore, it is incumbent on concerned agencies to ramp up the vaccination of the workers for disease prevention.
- All concerned agencies must put in place a procedure to ensure fishing workers are taken care of and have access to labour rights Disease control should not be used to justify the decimation of labour protection, and access to medical treatment must be promoted among the workers.
For more information, please contact:
Mr. Papob Siamhan, Program Director, Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF), phone 094-5485306, e-mail: [email protected]
Mr. Adisorn Kerdmongkhol, Migrant Working Group’s Coordinator, phone 089 788 7138 or email: [email protected]