Fair Fish: Fostering Accountability in Recruitment for Fishery Workers
The Fair Fish project seeks to contribute to a fair global playing field for workers and responsible U.S. businesses by engaging with the private sector to reduce forced labor and human trafficking in the fishing and seafood processing sectors in Thailand. By working directly with companies and their labor recruiters, the project works to help these companies to improve their approaches to addressing forced labor and human trafficking in the recruitment processes, to improve compliance with recruitment policies and procedures by third-party recruiters, and to promote responsible recruitment among other small- and medium-sized enterprises.
Recruitment agencies play an important role in helping workers find decent work and matching available jobs with qualified candidates. Unfortunately, the recruitment process often lacks transparency and a clear line of accountability for the actors involved to uphold worker protections. When employers use third-party labor recruiters, they risk losing control of the recruitment process, particularly when it is spread across several agencies and agents, each fulfilling discrete roles and often charging different systems and informality in the process can make it challenging to bring recruitment processes into compliance with international guidelines. Of the 25 million forced laborers worldwide, many were deceived or coerced by employers or labor recruiters. Such deceitful employers and recruiters misled them about the nature and conditions of work, confiscated passports and other identity documents, exacted recruitment fees that led to debt bondage, withheld wages, or even threatened or committed acts of physical violence.
Fair Fish works to assist two private-sector companies, as well as their recruitment agencies and recruiters, as they develop a responsible recruitment pilot model for small- and medium-size enterprises built on the principles of the Business Social Compliance Initiative. Activities include establishing a business case for responsible recruitment and coaching targeted recruitment agencies to comply with the companies’ new recruitment policies.
Once the model has been finalized, Fair Fish will develop a responsible recruitment curriculum, translated and culturally adapted for Thailand, Myanmar, and Cambodia. After training a pool of master trainers, other local recruitment agencies and labor brokers will be able to be trained in their respective countries.
The project completed a study on migration routes from Myanmar and Cambodia to Thailand and shared findings with the participating companies.
The Food School (TFS) conducted factory visits and drafted detailed document reviews of the participating companies’ social compliance management systems. TFS then helped the companies draft a set of policies and implementing procedures related to recruitment. Between July and September, TFS also delivered 55 technical assistance sessions to the companies on how to improve their compliance with international responsible recruitment standards.