Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Asia Times Online: Thai shrimp workers battle low pay, abuse

Asia Times Online reports on conditions of migrant workers in Thailand's shrimp industry.
"Sakhon or modern Mahachai, a central Thai province that is home to over 6,000 seafood factories. This fishing and factory town at the mouth of the Tha Chin Klong river, which empties into the Gulf of Thailand, also hosts a huge percentage of the estimated 2.5 million migrant workers who underpin much of Thailand's burgeoning economy. People from Myanmar comprise 82%of these migrants, while the rest come mostly from Laos (8.4%) and Cambodia (9.5%)... smaller processing factories "force workers to work overtime for less pay. The legal minimum wage is 300 baht [US$10] per day and overtime is 56 baht per hour, but they usually pay 50-100 baht overall, and no overtime. Most workers are confined to the compound in these factories. Often, they are locked up and their documents confiscated to prevent them from escaping." This is especially true in smaller factories, which handle the shrimp peeling for larger enterprises, where "shifts start at 4 am and finish late at night," according to U Aung Kyaw. Thailand's seafood industry employs more than 650,000 people. Its exports totaled US$7.3 billion in 2011, with the United States, Japan and Europe importing nearly 70% of the country's seafood."

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