Fight slavery in the Thai chicken industry - FreedomUnited.org

Fight slavery in the Thai chicken industry

ALERT: READ UPDATE

“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

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

These workers are now safe, sheltered by our partner the Migrant Worker Rights Network (MWRN) in Thailand. However, with no means to survive, they urgently need to receive their owed compensation to rebuild their lives and find decent work.

The 14 workers told 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 are one of Thailand’s largest chicken exporters, supplying chicken for pet food and ready-made meals, and until recently, were a major buyer from this farm.2  They have the power to make sure these workers receive owed compensation, but we’re pretty sure they won’t do it unless they feel public pressure. Will you help?

Reports we have since received, suggest that exploitation is widespread in Thailand’s poultry industry – with similar cases found in other chicken farms.

Call on Betagro to show responsibility by investigating conditions for all workers in their poultry supply chains and ensuring these 14 survivors receive their owed compensation without delay.

Nan Win’s Story

Nan Win Thai Chicken IndustryNan 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.3

Photograph by Maximillian Scott-Murray
Maximilliansm.com

Campaign updates

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.

BETAGRO: Address exploitation in your supply chain

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FAO: Betagro C.E.O. Mr. Vanus Taepaisitphongse, Member of the Thai Broiler Processing Exporters Association

Dear C.E.O. Mr. Vanus Taepaisitphongse,

I am shocked and horrified to learn that labor exploitation has been uncovered in the poultry supply chains of Betagro. As one of the largest food companies in Thailand, Betagro has a responsibility to lead the way in fighting exploitation in the poultry industry and ensure its products are slavery-free.

I urge Betagro to stop delisting suppliers that fail to meet labor standard practices and instead work within your supply chains to ensure all workers are fairly treated.

I call on Betagro to:

1. Ensure that all 14 workers from Thammakaset Farm 2 are paid compensation immediately, in line with Thai labor laws, taking into account additional rights violations and rights for damages under criminal and civil law;

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 and keep you updated on this and other campaigns.

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Our partner in this campaign:

International Labor Rights Forum

International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) is a human rights organization that advocates for workers globally. It holds global corporations accountable for labor rights violations in their supply chains, advances policies and laws that protect workers, and strengthens workers’ ability to advocate for their rights. ILRF works with trade unions, faith-based organizations, and community groups to support workers and their families.

Stop The Traffik

STOP THE TRAFFIK is a global movement of activists from all sectors of society who passionately give their time and energy, uniting to build resilient communities. They look to disrupt and prevent human trafficking and its harm and abuse to human beings. They campaign for a traffik-free world. They seek to prevent trafficking by engaging in community transformation, global campaigning and by gathering and sharing knowledge.

Swedwatch

Swedwatch is an independent, non-profit organization reporting on Swedish business relations in developing countries. They cover different sectors and focus on social and environmental concerns, including investigating human rights breaches and pushing companies to act according to international standards. Their main goal is to reduce poverty and encourage sustainable social and environmental development in the South.

Fairfood

Fairfood is a non-profit organization that works to improve the socio-economic conditions of workers and smallholder farmers in the global food system by influencing food companies and governments. It strives for a food system in which people live and work in dignity, the environment is respected and there is social and economic value for all.

Justice and International Mission

The Justice and International Mission, of the Uniting Church Synod of Victoria and Tasmania exists to provide resources to engage with and educate others about issues of social justice. They also work on advocacy aimed at shifting and shaping public policy.

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