Betagro & Thammakaset lawsuit (re labour exploitation in Thailand)

On 2 September 2016, 14 Myanmar migrants filed a lawsuit at a labour court in Saiburi province, southern Thailand, against Betagro, a major Thai food Poultry_farm_photo_credit_pixabaycorporation.  The lawsuit seeks compensation and civil damages for alleged mistreatment at a poultry farm in the central Lopburi province in Thailand, Thammakaset 2, that supplies Betagro.  The workers allege that they suffered serious abuses at the factory, such as forced labour, restrictions on movement, passport confiscation, and unlawful salary reductions.  They claim, they were forced to work 22-hour shifts without extra pay and proper breaks, while their salaries came to less than minimum wage.  On 31 October, the first hearing took place.  The parties failed to reach an agreement over compensation.  The next court hearing will be held on 28 November.

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Article
4 November 2016

Thailand: Labour court hears lawsuit against food company Betagro alleging mistreatment of Myanmar migrant workers

Author: Nyan Lynn Aung, Myanmar Times (Myanmar)

"Thai forced labour case pushed to November 28", 1 Nov 2016

Unsatisfied with the 1.7 million Thai baht (US$48,500) in compensation awarded by the Lopburi Labour Protection and Welfare Office against the poultry farm owner, the workers are seeking 44 million baht from the poultry giant Betagro, which sourced some of its chicken from Thammakaset Farm 2, where the 14 were employed...U Sein Htay, chair of the Migrant Workers Rights Network (MWRN)...said the court ordered both sides to come to an agreement on compensation during the hearing but an agreement was not reached.  The Thai court will reconvene on November 28 to issue compensation decisions, he said...The workers claim they were forced to work overtime without pay or breaks.  Their salaries, they said, came to less than minimum wage and were subject to unlawful deductions.  The workers’ movements were also restricted by the farm, they say...

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Article
31 October 2016

Lawsuit filed by poultry workers against chicken grower Thammakaset & buyer Betagro over forced overtime & other abuses tests supply chain responsibility in Thailand

Author: Alisa Tang, Reuters

"Facebook post inspires landmark case for migrant workers in Thailand"

Tun Tun Win and his co-workers from Myanmar thought life was fine at the Thammakaset chicken farm in central Thailand, where they reared hundreds of thousands of birds for export to the European Union...

It was a smartphone and a Facebook post that opened Tun Tun Win's eyes to the severity of his work conditions - and led to a landmark lawsuit pitting migrant workers against a corporation at the top of the food chain

The Facebook post by the local non-profit Migrant Worker Rights Network (MWRN) inspired Tun Tun Win and 13 co-workers to take action.

In a lawsuit filed at a labour court earlier this month following unsuccessful negotiations with the company and local authorities, they are demanding $1.3 million in compensation and civil damages.

The suit alleges forced overtime, unlawful salary deductions, passport confiscation and limited freedom of movement.

Crucially, the action is against both Thammakaset and the buyer of the farm's poultry - agricultural giant Betagro, which exports food worldwide….

Andy Hall, a prominent British human rights activist in Thailand who has consulted on several cases involving migrants, said the litigation was an important test case.

"We're trying to hold Betagro responsible for the system of contract farming," he said. "If we can, it will have huge implications for contract farming and the responsibility of corporate supply chains across Thailand."…

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