Following their escape in June last year, we have been campaigning on behalf of 14 Myanmar workers who escaped exploitation on a Thai poultry farm that supplied food giant Betagro. Unbelievably, the workers are still awaiting compensation and the opportunity to return home!
View the campaign timeline.
This month, the workers were in court facing defamation charges brought against them by the poultry farm for raising their case with the national human rights commission. Despite wishing to return home, the workers are committed to fighting the case.
We share the workers’ frustration that they have yet to see any compensation. This is despite the Thai Appeals Court last month upholding their compensation award of 1.7 million Thai Baht (approximately $50,000 USD) granted by a lower court. The award is being held pending a newly introduced level of appeal, which the farm is pursuing.
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However, the attention our campaign is bringing to their case is having a positive impact. In contrast to previous cases, the workers’ freedom of movement has not been unfairly restricted. Although they must secure the permission of the court to travel, theirpassports have not been retained and no immigration blocks have been placed on their travel. One worker was able to briefly visit Myanmar following the death of his grandparent. This is to be welcomed.
This follows a letter we wrote with 86 other organizations to the Thai Prime Ministerlast month raising concerns about companies’ use of criminal law against those seeking justice.
Read our letter to the Thai Prime Minister.
The campaign has also gained the support of retailers. An unprecedented open letter from the Foreign Trade Association, based in Brussels, called for an 'Out of Court Settlement' in response to increasing concern by its members, including European retailers and poultry importers.
Right now we are glad to report that the workers have decent jobs, enabling them to continue to pursue their claim for owed compensation and defend themselves against the criminal charges they face.
Together we stand by the workers’ pursuit of justice.
Joanna, Miriam and the whole Freedom United team
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