More than 300 Cambodian migrant workers out of a total of 3,000 employed at the GFN chicken processing factory in Nong Yai district of Thailand’s Chonburi province went on strike on the evening of March 7 after the factory terminated 32 Cambodian workers in response to their demands for better working conditions.
Yem Yot, a Cambodian working as a translator at the GFN factory, was allegedly fired due to the factory not applying for a visa extension on his behalf.
He told The Post on March 8 that recently there were more than 300 workers, himself included, who could not renew their visas to continue working at the factory.
Yot said the factory had not followed the normal process for issuing visas for him and 31 other workers. The factory, he said, claimed that it had not applied for visa renewals for them because they had incited other workers to revolt and protest and that they had performed their jobs poorly.
“Upon hearing this news, the other workers went on strike demanding that the factory’s owner treat the 32 of us fairly. We’ve protested, but there weren’t any mediators there at night. There has been no solution so far,” he said.
Yot called on the Cambodian government to intervene, saying this will help Cambodian people who are being exploited and deprived of their rights in Thailand.
“We want to request legal compensation if the company has terminated us. Another issue is that I want the company to issue a letter for me properly so that I can find another job. I think if I protest and [then try to] return to work in the same place, they would find [another] excuse to [fire] me,” he said.
According to Yot, Cambodian migrant workers at the GFN factory have protested several times since October 2020, due to the factory’s alleged exploitation of their labour and violations of their rights.
A Cambodian worker who asked not to be named said the factory had frequently oppressed its workers and exploited Cambodian workers, depriving them of their rights and benefits.
He sees the dismissal of these 32 workers as an injustice and fears future termination and increased oppression.
“I am also worried because 32 workers have not been issued working visas. We are afraid it will be our turn later,” he said.
The Post was unable to contact any representative of the GFN factory for comment on March 8.
But a Cambodian embassy official in Bangkok who asked not to be named briefly told The Post by telephone that the embassy was currently investigating the matter.
Leung Sophon, an official of the Centre for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (Central) in Thailand who went to the factory in person, said the factory had accused the 32 workers of leading the other workers in protests.
He said the reality was that all of the workers had participated in demanding their rights and benefits to which they are entitled.
“If the factory terminated them, they should inform us according to the labour law. It is illegal if they do it like this. According to the law, the factory should inform us three to four months in advance because some of them still have valid visas. So, this factory is not [being fair] to Cambodian migrant workers,” he said.