Fight slavery in the Thai chicken industry - FreedomUnited.org
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Campaign Update:

February 14,  2019: Today we, along with 88 international, regional, and local organizations from around the world, sent a letter to Thailand’s Prime Minister to oppose and seek the dismissal of several spurious complaints brought by Thai-owned poultry farm company Thammakaset Co. Ltd. against several human rights defenders in Thailand. Read the full letter here.

Fight slavery in the Thai chicken industry

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“We were treated like slaves, all day and all night we had to work. I don’t want anyone else to have to face the same ordeal.” Nayto, Survivor

In late June 2016, 14 migrant workers escaped a chicken farm in the Lopburi region of Thailand. Their reports of harsh treatment, exhaustive hours and despicable work conditions made instant headlines.1

The 14 workers told Migrant Workers Rights Network (MWRN) that they were subjected to abusive supervisors, working hours that stretched through the day and night. With little to no time off, they endured terrible living conditions – sometimes forced to sleep alongside the hatchlings. Trapped on an isolated farm, workers could only leave for a single two-hour supervised trip per week. Their passports were confiscated, preventing them from leaving.

“I worked for 4 and a half years, often cramming 2 days’ work into one. I’m tired now and want to go home.” Myint, Survivor.

Betagro is one of Thailand’s largest chicken exporters, supplying chicken for pet food and ready-made meals, used to buy from this farm but recently cut ties.2 Yet by cutting off this supplier, there is little leverage to rectify abuses and promote improved labor protections down their supply chain.

Since launching this campaign in 2016, Thai courts have ordered compensation for the workers, but they and other human rights defenders are not in the clear just yet.

The farm owner continues to press defamation charges against Nan Win — one of the 14 workers — and Thai human rights activist Sutharee Wannasiri for speaking out about the abuses.3

Based on on-the-ground reports, exploitation is a chronic problem across Thailand’s poultry industry. Farm workers and their allies should never face industry retaliation for exposing labor violations.

Stand with migrant workers in the Thai poultry industry who fight for justice and demand an end to their harassment.

Nan Win’s Story

Nan Win grew up in Myanmar, earning a meagre living growing rice and beans. With a need to provide more for his family, he made the decision to migrate to Thailand to work for a commercial chicken farm. But it was far from what he expected.
“I think it is like modern slavery, because we had to work so hard and got so little money.”

Nan Win’s passport was taken, his movements were controlled, and he worked 19 hours for at least 40 consecutive days, receiving just a fraction of  what he was owed — the equivalent of just 45 cents an hour. He slept in a room next to 28,000 chickens, constantly monitoring the power supply to industrial fans to ensure the chickens didn’t overheat.

His opportunity to escape came when he spotted something on social media from local organization MWRN. He made contact, which led the way for the escape of all 14 workers.4

Photograph by Maximillian Scott-Murray
Maximilliansm.com

  • February 14,  2019: Today we, along with 88 international, regional, and local organizations from around the world, sent a letter to Thailand’s Prime Minister to oppose and seek the dismissal of several spurious complaints brought by Thai-owned poultry farm company Thammakaset Co. Ltd. against several human rights defenders in Thailand. Read the full letter here.

  • January 15, 2019: Thailand’s Supreme Court has upheld a ruling in favor of the 14 migrant workers, ordering that they be paid the 1.7 million baht ($53,000) compensation owed to them. Read more on this encouraging development here.

  • November 22, 2018: Migrant workers continue to face legal challenges from Thammakaset Farm and have yet to receive any compensation. Nan Win, one of the migrant workers, faces his preliminary hearing early next month in the criminal defamation case brought against him and 13 other workers by Thammakaset Farm.

  • August 13, 2018: Today two of the workers reported to a police station to hear an additional and separate set of criminal theft charges filed by the chicken farm on August 1, 2018, alleging the theft of the worker’s own timecards, showing working hours of up to 20 hours per day. These two workers face up to five years in prison and a 100, 000 Thai baht fine if convicted.

  • July 11, 2018: Great news! Today, a Bangkok Court read its verdict in the criminal defamation case filed against the 14 workers and found them not guilty. This is a landmark ruling for migrant workers’ rights in Thailand, but we are still waiting to see the 14 Myanmar workers receive the compensation they are owed.

  • July 2018: The verdict on the workers’ case is expected to be heard on July 11.

  • February 2018: The trial against the 14 workers on criminal defamation charges began on February 7 and has been adjourned until April.

  • 14 September 2017: Following the employer’s appeal of the lower court’s decision, the Thai Supreme Court upheld the award of 1.7 million Thai Baht (US$52,000) in compensation to the 14 workers. Criminal charges, brought by the employer against the workers and human rights activist Andy Hall, remain.

  • 17 March 2017: Thai courts have ordered the chicken farm owner to pay 1.7 million Thai Baht in compensation to the workers in recognition of the exploitation they experienced. This falls far short of the full amount lawyers were pursuing for the workers. Private negotiations to resolve the case between all parties has broken down and criminal charges of defamation brought against the workers by the chicken farm owner are ongoing.

Jul 19, 2016 Campaign Launches

Chip in and help end modern slavery once and for all.

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Luke LeedenAlisonSajjad SulmanGraeme HunterGeraldine Recent comment authors
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Luke Leeden
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Luke Leeden

Over the years I have given many Australian dollars to Thailand as both a tourist and donator – I may choose to donate and travel elsewhere

Alison
Guest
Alison

Fantastic result! Now let’s help the chickens whose lives are 100% brutality and exploitation. Another way we make living beings into puppets for ‘the love of money’ and ‘how it makes us feel’. There is of course the interim problem of employment for chicken workers but we can and must transition to kind ways of making food.

Sajjad Sulman
Guest
Sajjad Sulman

Freedom is the birth right of every person, We should walk with the effected people .

Graeme Hunter
Guest

People who make others slaves are inadequate themselves, why for they have to use and abuse people for their own pleasure. That includes making money, they have not the decency to employ them and give a living wage and profit is their motive.

Graeme Hunter
Guest

Slavery in any form is against humanity. Though humans do it to other people for the love of money and how it makes them feel. Which is a selfish ego feeling. Humans should help others to their best potential and they should not make people into puppets for their pleasure or fear.

End exploitation in the Thai chicken industry

88,786 actions of 100,000 goal
88,786

To: F.A.O. Betagro C.E.O. Mr. Vanus Taepaisitphongse
CC: Thai Broiler Processing Exporters Association

I am shocked and horrified to learn about labor exploitation alleged to have occurred on Thammakaset farms, a former supplier in Betagro’s supply chain.

Rather than suspending or cutting ties with suppliers that fail to meet labor standard practices, I urge the Betagro and the Association to instead work within your supply chains to ensure all workers are fairly treated and will not face industry retaliation for speaking out about labor violations.

In light of the recent Supreme Court decision to award compensation to the workers and the ongoing defamation cases I call on Betagro and the Association to:

  1. Pledge that all members and your suppliers will not retaliate against abused workers or their allies who seek justice.
  2. Investigate working conditions in all your poultry supply chains and resolve further uncovered cases of exploitation and ensure all workers are able to raise grievances.
Freedom United will protect your privacy while updating you on campaigns, news and stories about modern slavery.


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