Made to work 20 hours a day. Identity documents confiscated. Illegal wage deductions. Restricted movement. Being forced to sleep with chickens.
These are the conditions reported by 14 migrant workers in Thailand who managed to escape from the Thammakaset poultry farm in Lopburi, Thailand, in June 2016. They brought their case to the Thai Department of Labour Protection and Welfare, and were awarded nearly $54,000 in compensation. Yet a year and a half later, they have yet to receive any of that money.
Even worse, these workers now face jail time for reporting the conditions of abuse! They will go on trial tomorrow on charges of criminal defamation, brought by the employer who exploited them. Tell the Thai Government it must take immediate action to protect these workers, and ensure that migrant workers are able to report on abusive and illegal working conditions without fear of retaliation!
This injustice is only possible because Thailand is failing to live up to its obligations to respect and protect worker rights. Migrant workers are particularly vulnerable to abuse because complex and expensive immigration processes leave workers reliant on brokers who can easily trap them in debt bondage. Furthermore, work permits bind them to employers so it’s hard to leave even in cases of severe abuse, and a mixture of weak enforcement and police corruption make it nearly impossible for them to access justice. Laws in Thailand like criminal defamation, which United Nations bodies have condemned as an attack on freedom of expression that should be universally abolished, also empower abusive employers to prosecute workers who speak out.
Thailand cannot claim progress in respecting its obligations under international law as long as it continues to work hand-in-hand with abusive employers to cover up cases of worker exploitation. Tell the Thai government to act NOW to protect the migrant workers on trial this week, and all migrant workers who seek justice!