Myanmar migrant workers to lodge appeal seeking back pay from Thai poultry giant

An appeal letter for 14 Myanmar migrant workers will be filed today pressing ahead with demands for substantial additional compensation from a poultry farm in Thailand’s Lopburi province accused of labour abuses, according to the Migrant Workers Rights Network.

The network said the claimants are seeking 46 million baht (US$1.33 million) from Thai chicken exporting giant Betagro Group, more than 27 times the 1.7 million baht compensation that a court ordered be paid to the workers on July 27. Betagro had sourced some of its chicken from the Thammakaset Farm 2, where the abuses took place, before reportedly dropping it as a supplier when the allegations came to light.

U Sein Htay, chair of the Migrant Workers Rights Network (MWRN), said that in addition to the appeal letter to the court, the network would also submit a petition to the Thai Broiler Chicken Association with more than 45,000 signatures in support of the migrant workers.

He said the compensation payment ordered by a Thai court in July had only covered two years and no overtime, while the workers in question had been employed anywhere from three to five years at the factory, with regular overtime.

“We will be pushing the Betagro company to take responsibility for abuse of labourers as well as pressuring the [poultry] association in order to have accountability for forced labour,” U Sein Htay said.

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 migrants.

Andy Hall, an international affairs adviser to the MWRN, said the petition calls on the Thai poultry association to encourage its member, Betagro, to ensure that the owed compensation is provided to the 14 workers and urges the company to investigate working conditions throughout its supply chain.

Ko Naing Win, 28, who had worked at the poultry farm for more than three years, said all of the former workers are now employed at a seafood processing facility and are living at the MWRN office in Mahachai, a Thai port town, after quitting their Thammakaset Farm 2 jobs in late June.

“We want be worthy of our compensation because we were forced and abused labourers for a long time and it was suffering. We hope that Thai authorities and the poultry association will care for us,” he said.

The chicken factory in central Lopburi province was accused in a June 28 complaint of forcing its employees to work punishing hours for pay below minimum wage. Workers said they were forced to work 65 days straight before getting just three days off, with workdays stretching from 7am to 5pm.

 

Source: Myanmar Times

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