lunes, 12 de diciembre de 2016

Fight slavery in the Thai chicken industry - Walk Free

Fight slavery in the Thai chicken industry - Walk Free

“Our boss lied to us about our wages, withholding our pay, and only giving a small amount of that owed to us. When we informed the authorities of our mistreatment the owner…denied any wrong doing, lying to the police despite the evidence we raised.” May Lay, Survivor
Today, on International Human Rights Day, we share with you first hand testimony from Myanmar migrant workers who escaped exploitation on Thai poultry farms earlier this year.
Earlier this summer, news of 14 migrant workers made headlines, after they escaped slavery-like conditions at a poultry farm that supplied food giant Betagro. We’ve been campaigning on behalf of the workers as they attempt to rebuild their lives.
But it hasn’t been easy. Betagro and the chicken farm owner have refused to compensate the workers unless they repeal claims of forced labour and serious abuse – allegations that entitle the workers to compensation larger than offered. Furthermore, Betagro and the farm owner have launched criminal defamation lawsuits against the workers for making false claims about how they were treated. The workers now face criminal charges.
As the legal proceedings against the workers escalate, we revisit the survivors’ stories to remember why it is so important we stand behind them.
In solidarity,
Zoe, Joanna, Kat and the Walk Free team



31 October 2016: The initial hearing for a settlement was unsuccessful as the farm owner insisted on continuing to pursue criminal defamation charges against the 14 workers, MWRN and Andy Hall (who has been working with MWRN on behalf of the workers) whilst also requiring them to sign documents to say that there was no forced labour or serious abuses - allegations that entitle the workers to compensation larger than offered. You can support their pursuit for justice by contributing to their legal costs here.
2 September 2016: Today our partners in Bangkok delivered over 45,000 of our signatures to the Thai Broiler Association (TBA). Click here to see the photos or here on Facebook. Betagro have now pledged 50,000 Thai Baht in humanitarian support for the workers, and the TBA have also provided 3,000 Thai Baht to each worker.
“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 WinNan 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 organisation MWRN. He made contact, which led the way for the escape of all 14 workers.3
Photograph by Maximillian Scott-Murray

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