Myanmar farm workers get B1.7m

Myanmar farm workers get B1.7m

14 awarded damages after 3-year battle

Myanmar workers and supporters are celebrating a victory at the Supreme Labour Court in their continuing three-year battle over the Thammakaset Farm's labour conditions. (File photo)
Myanmar workers and supporters are celebrating a victory at the Supreme Labour Court in their continuing three-year battle over the Thammakaset Farm's labour conditions. (File photo)

After a three-year trial that exposed questionable labour practices used by Thailand's thriving poultry industry, 14 Myanmar workers learned Tuesday they would receive a total of 1.7 million baht in compensation.

The Central Labour Court, also known as the Supreme Labour Court, issued a statement confirming that it has ordered Thammakaset Farm to pay the 14 plaintiffs this much in damages.

The payment was due to be made within seven days.

The migrant workers sued their former employer in 2016 for not paying their full salaries or overtime and subjecting them to unreasonable working conditions, including depriving them of their passports. They demanded 44 million baht in compensation.

Thammakaset, which has supplied poultry products to Betagro, local giant poultry exporter, was the defendant in the case. The farm is located in Lop Buri.

The 1.7 million baht was deposited with a lower court at the end of last year, when the Region 1 Labour Court ordered the company to pay that much in liability.

It was to cover penalty fees, deducted salaries and overtime during the two-year working period.

Thammakaset appealed but the Central Labour Court upheld the decision on Tuesday.

It found the defendant had violated the civil law for paying salaries below the legal requirement and neglecting to pay overtime, but was not guilty of any human rights violations.

The 14 workers said the company had crossed the line by confiscating their passports, forcing them to work night shifts, and making them sleep next to the poultry factory.

They also lodged a complaint with the National Human Right Commission (NHRC) that saw them as exploited workers. The NHRC ruled the case was a breach of contract only.

The case drew considerable attention after the 14 workers told foreign media and several international labour rights organisations about their living and working conditions at the farm.

The Lop Buri office of the Department of Labour Protection and Welfare investigated and found that the workers' passports had not been confiscated, but that the other allegations were true, which led to the order to pay 1.7 million baht.

Thammakaset Farm denied the charges and launched a defamation lawsuit, saying the workers voluntarily worked nights and chose to sleep where they did.

Betagro, a major Thai exporter in this industry, said later it had cut ties with the farm.


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