Commission to probe poultry industry labour 'abuses'

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has pledged to look into allegations of exploitation of migrant workers in the poultry industry after a chicken farm in Lop Buri province was accused of abuses and rights violations.

The move follows a petition lodged by the Migrant Workers Right Network (MWRN) which demanded the rights agency investigate labour practices in the Thai poultry industry.

The MWRN recently received a complaint from a group of 14 migrant workers at a Lop Buri chicken farm.

The workers, whose employment periods range from 11 months to four years, accuse the farm's owner of forcing them to work for more than 15 hours a day and paying them 230 baht a day, well below the daily minimum wage of 300 baht. They do not get overtime payments for working during public holidays.

They claimed they had been forced to sleep at the farm to keep an eye on the chickens, and had to pay a monthly 1,600 baht accommodation fee to the owner.

According to the MWRN, the migrant workers said they are allowed to leave the farm from 5pm to 7pm to shop at a local market. The farm owner has confiscated their passports.

The workers said they go to bed after 9pm but have to sleep on a hard bamboo floor as they had to be on the lookout for animals trying to attack the birds.

Andy Hall, adviser to MWRN, said the Thai poultry industry faces a series of allegations of labour and human rights violations and the NHRC should step in to investigate some companies.

He said it was important for those involved to monitor working conditions throughout the supply chain and make sure operators meet requirements for good governance.

Prakairat Tontheerawong, chairwoman of the NHRC's sub-committee on rights, economy, social and cultural affairs, said the agency will launch an inquiry into the complaint.

She said all parties concerned will be invited for talks to make sure labour rights are being respected. She also welcomed the complainant group's call for an inspection of farm working conditions.

A female worker said yesterday that she is also wrongfully accused by the farm owner who filed a complaint with police accusing her of stealing.

The worker said she just showed a device that records working hours to labour and social welfare inspectors when they showed up at the farm for a regular check. She said she did not steal the device.

It is reported that the farm in question supplies products to a listed poultry giant which is a major supplier of chicken products to foreign markets.

About the author

columnist
Writer: Penchan Charoensuthipan
Position: Reporter