Thai forced labour case pushed to November 28
A FORCED labour case involving 14 Myanmar workers and a giant poultry exporter in Thailand’s Lopburi province went unresolved in court yesterday.
Unsatisfied with the 1.7 million Thai baht (US$48,500) in compensation awarded by the Lopburi Labour Protection and Welfare Office against the poultry farm owner, the workers are seeking 44 million baht from the poultry giant Betagro, which sourced some of its chicken from Thammakaset Farm 2, where the 14 were employed.
The workers say the farm, Thammakaset 2, forced them to work 22hour shifts and sleep next to the chickens.
U Sein Htay, chair of the Migrant Workers Rights Network (MWRN), which is assisting in the case, said the court ordered both sides to come to an agreement on compensation during the hearing but an agreement was not reached.
The Thai court will reconvene on November 28 to issue compensation decisions, he said.
“The factory declined to pay the 44 million baht compensation that we demanded and they opened defamation cases against all 14 Myanmar migrant workers,” U Sein Htay said. “Therefore, we could not reach an agreement and we are waiting for the final decision of the court.”
The workers claim they were forced to work overtime without pay or breaks. Their salaries, they said, came to less than minimum wage and were subject to unlawful deductions. The workers’ movements were also restricted by the farm, they say. The complainants were forced to work 65 straight days at one point, they said. Some of the accusers say they endured the abusive conditions for up to five years.
A lesser court previously ordered the farm owners to pay 1.7 million baht, which MWRN said is well below the migrant workers’ demands.
The case has highlighted abuses in Thailand’s poultry farming industry, which long avoided the kind of criticism the seafood industry has faced despite also being rife with maltreatment of workers, many of whom are Myanmar migrants.
Thai factory workers process chicken meat at a chicken manufacturer in Saraburi province, north of Bangkok, on June 28, 2012.