Freedoms and (Un)freedoms: Migrant Worker Experiences in the Thai and Vietnamese Fishing Industries

Title: Freedoms and (Un)freedoms: Migrant Worker Experiences in the Thai and Vietnamese Fishing Industries
Authors: Dasilva, Brianna
Date: 2020-11-24
Abstract: Over the past four years both the media and academia have highlighted the labour conditions and human rights issues prevalent in Thailand’s offshore fishing industry. Even so, little has been written from the perspective of fish workers, and far less is known about fish work in the Southeast Asian region. This thesis contributes to these gaps by exploring the experiences of fish workers in several ports across Thailand and Vietnam, along with former migrant fish workers, to provide insight into labour conditions for fish workers and the risks associated with migration for fish work. To do so, the thesis draws upon four interview data sets involving 40 fish workers (including boat owners and captains) conducted in Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia between 2014-2017, along with a review of the relevant literature on fish work, labour, and migration. After describing the experiences of fish workers in both countries, a number of themes emerge. These include challenges pertaining to recruitment, wages, risks at sea and agency. Each theme is unpacked in turn, to showcase the nuanced experiences of Cambodian fish workers in Thailand and internal migrants in Vietnam, but also to highlight how fish workers navigate complex migration processes. Specific to the Thai context, Derk’s (2010) early work on unfreedoms experienced by migrant Cambodian fish workers in coastal Thailand serves as a framework to compare and contrast working conditions between then and now. The thesis concludes with a reflection on migrant fish work and key areas that require further unpacking within the Southeast Asian context including what is happening in source countries (Cambodia, in this case, but also in other regions in Vietnam), while arguing that a modern slavery framing does not meaningfully protect migrant fish workers from unacceptable working conditions.
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -