Late June, an investigation into a poultry farm in Thailand owned by the company giant Betagro, one of the largest chicken exporters in the world, discovered 14 Myanmar migrants were being held for labour exploitation. Betagro supplies largescale poultry for pet food and ready-made meals throughout both Asia and the western world. Forced labour is an issue that is still all too common in the world today, and has a high rate in Thailand particularly in its agricultural and seafood sectors. Farms and rural factories are an opportune place for trafficking for the purposes of labour exploitation, due to the isolated nature and the lack of scrutiny and public eye. The workers were discovered after one was arrested for stealing property from her employer. The item she stole was simply her timecard in a desperate attempt to prove the extreme hours they were being forced to work. Through this, the Myanmar Workers Rights Network (MWRN) were able to become involved to rescue these workers and advocate on their behalf for compensation for unpaid wages.
THESE CASES CAN OFTEN SEEM QUITE CONFUSING SO WHAT HAPPENED TO THEM?
- These individuals came to Thailand in hopes of gaining employment to be able to support their families back at home in Myanmar
- Arriving, they each had a similar story of finding an agent who promised to find them a job on a farm in return for a debt they would pay back through the money they would earn
- Upon arrival to the Betagro farm, they had their passports and documents confiscated, which would prevent them from being able to leave
- They were forced to work from 7am until 5pm and then again from 7pm until 5am, an extreme total of 20 hours a day
- They were paid at the equivalent of $260 AUD a