Our friends from the Walk free movement, a global community of over 8 million people who have driven 32 campaigns around the world to end modern slavery, are currently running a campaign calling on Betagro, a major poultry exporter to the EU supplying chicken for pet food and ready-made meals, to investigate conditions for all workers in their poultry supply chains and compensate 14 workers who escaped slavery conditions.
In June 2016, 14 migrant workers escaped a chicken farm in the Lopburi region of Thailand. Their reports of harsh treatment, exhaustive hours and despicable work conditions made instant headlines. They were made to work 19 hours a day for 40 days, had their travel documents confiscated by the farm owner and forced into debt slavery by brokers who arranged the jobs. Trapped on an isolated farm, workers could only leave for a single two-hour supervised trip per week. All 14 workers left the farm and are now being cared for by the Migrant Workers Rights Network (MWRN), a membership based organisation for migrant workers from Myanmar residing and working mainly in Thailand. However, with no means to survive, they urgently need to receive their owed compensation to rebuild their lives and find decent work.
Walk Free are calling on Betagro to show responsibility by investigating conditions for all workers in their poultry supply chains and ensuring these 14 survivors receive their owed compensation without delay. They have the power to make sure these workers receive the money owed to rebuild their lives and find decent work, as they currently have no means to survive.
Fairfood has actively campaigned to support Asian shrimp workers, who often earn poverty wages forcing them to work long hours with little to no job security. The majority of workers in the Thai shrimp industry are migrants from Burma, who have paid brokers high amounts for placements, travel, and visas to work in the industry. This shrimp like other food produced by Thailand’s exporting industries, is sold in European supermarkets, who have a turnover of about €3 trillion in 2012. These supermarkets are the ones with the power when negotiating prices and terms and conditions with suppliers. The parallels between Fairfood’s investigations into the Thai shrimp industry, highlighted in its 2015 report Caught in a trap – The story of poverty wages behind Asian shrimp sold in European supermarkets are obvious.