Cambodian migrant workers at a tuna processing company in Thailand have had their passports confiscated by their employers and are effectively trapped in substandard work conditions, research released yesterday revealed.
Non-profit research organisation Finnwatch said it had found a number of “problems” with working conditions at Thai Union Manufacturing (TUM), a factory in central Thailand’s Samut Sakhon province that supplies to big brands including John West and Petit Naview.
“Basic wages . . . do not cover living expenses, some employees lack written contracts and workplace safety is insufficient,” says a statement accompanying the report Cheap Has a High Price. “Underage children from Myanmar with false passports are also working at the [factory].”
According to the research, workers in the factory were not members of a trade union and many did not know what such a thing was.
Furthermore, all workers interviewed had been hired as day labourers and did not have a regular monthly income. TUM is the largest processing unit of tuna in Asia and employs almost 9,000 people – about half of whom are migrants from Cambodia and Myanmar.
“All migrant workers interviewed for this research stated that they had been employed through the recruitment agency Thai Golden Mile Service, a TUM partner. Among the Thai workers interviewed, only two had a contract directly with TUM.”
A TUM employee declined to comment yesterday.