Thai forced labour case pushed to Novem­ber 28

The Myanmar Times - - News - NYAN LYNN AUNG nyan­lin­aung@mm­

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.

Photo: EPA

Thai fac­tory work­ers process chicken meat at a chicken man­u­fac­turer in Saraburi prov­ince, north of Bangkok, on June 28, 2012.

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