Myanmar migrant workers seriously abused by Thai employers: rights network

Thai employers are seriously abusing migrant workers from Myanmar on chicken farms, according to the Migrant Worker Rights Network (MWRN).

At around 11 am on Thursday, 7 July 2016, staff of the MWRN and representatives of 14 migrant workers from Myanmar who had been employed on a chicken farm in Lopburi Province belonging to Betagro Company, a large agricultural and food products conglomerate in Thailand, submitted a letter to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

The letter alleges that migrant workers were seriously exploited and abused by their employers and demands compensation.

Suthasinee Keawleklai, coordinator of the MWRN, said that the workers had to work from 7 am to 5 pm and had to start another shift from 7 pm to 5 am and were only paid 230 baht, 70 baht less than the minimum wage under Thai law. The employers also confiscated their passports.

“The [migrant] workers expect the MWRN and NHRC to help them,” said Suthasinee. “They expect to be paid for their work during that time in order to travel back to Myanmar because they are not happy to remain in Thailand any longer.”

The MWRN also urged the authorities to investigate labour conditions on other chicken farms, many of which employ migrant workers from Thailand’s neighbouring countries.

The 14 migrant workers from Myanmar contacted the MWRN in June and reported that they had not received payment to which they were entitled in accordance to their working hours. They later decided to quit their jobs at the farm on 15 June.

So far, Betagro Company has denied allegations that the 14 workers had to work a second 7 pm – 5 am shift at the chicken farm.

The migrant workers and MWRN also submitted a report on the allegations of exploitation to the Department of Labour Protection and Welfare of Lopburi Province.

Officers of MWRN and representatives of 14 migrant workers from Myanmar submit a letter to the NHRC on 7 July 2016