HRN Releases Report: Labour Rights Violations in the Thai Poultry Industry within the Supply Chains of Japanese Companies (2019)

On 21 June 2019, Human Rights Now released the English version of the report: Labour Rights Violations in the Thai Poultry Industry within the Supply Chains of Japanese Companies 2019 (2nd Ed) (pdf format).

HRN also released the Japanese version of the report at the same time: タイ鶏肉産業における強制労働:日本企業のサプライチェーン上における労働者の権利侵害(第2版) (pdf format) on our Japanese-language site: http://hrn.or.jp/activity/16013/.

This Second Edition of the report provides an English translation and is an updated version of the First Edition of the report which was released on 11 December 2018 (in Japanese only) on our site: http://hrn.or.jp/news/14964/.

 

Japan Must be Accountable for its Connections to Labour Rights Violations in Thailand

In the report, HRN describes the widespread practice of labour rights violations throughout the poultry sector in Thailand, including in poultry farms and poultry processing factories. As Thailand’s largest export market for poultry, the Japanese government, companies, and civil society have a special responsibility to understand and address the connection of Japanese companies to the sector and the high risk of continuing violations.

The report focuses special attention on one case, the Thammakaset case, in which 14 Myanmar migrant workers working for the Thai poultry farm Thammakaset Farm 2 were ultimately awarded compensation by a Thai court after suffering years of labour rights violations and endless judicial harassment by the farm. HRN interviewed the workers and documented their reports of being forced to illegally work overtime, to work on mandatory holidays, and to submit to underpayment and having their passports confiscated, among other labour rights violations. The harassment included an endless barrage of criminal complaints against the workers designed to silence them, including defamation, computer crimes, and theft of timecards the workers used as evidence of their overwork.

While the case is an important milestone in protection of labour rights in Thailand, it is important to emphasize that the problem is not limited to this one case and that labour rights violations are common throughout the sector. The Thai government itself has acknowledged in a government report that the sector is at high risk of labour rights violations.

The report also describes the links between Thai companies  working in the poultry sector and Japanese companies, including food and import companies. HRN gave these companies an advanced copy of our report and requested their response. HRN also followed up with questions for the companies. Several companies submitted responses, all of which are collected in an appendix at the end of the report.

What We Can Do to Protect Poultry Workers in Thailand 

In the report, HRN offers several recommendations to various stakeholders to address the high risk of labour and human rights violations in Thailand’s poultry sector.

To Japanese companies with links to Thai poultry companies, the report recommends they commit to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, establish policies that suppliers must not engage in labour rights violations, release the names of poultry suppliers, develop due diligence and monitoring policies to identify supplier violations, publicly release their criteria and procedures sufficient for evaluation, and engage in dialog with supplier workers and other stakeholders.

To Thai poultry companies, farms, and factories, the report recommends they take immediate steps to comply with domestic and international labour standards, inform workers of their responsibilities and rights in their own language, train supervisors to respect workers’ rights, and engage in dialog with workers.

To the government of Thailand, the report recommends it develop a national action plan on business and human rights, enact legislation better complying with the 1930 Forced Labour Convention and ratify its protocol and other core ILO and related conventions, prevent harassment of workers bringing complaints, and reject recent poultry industry proposals to hold workers at work for longer periods and for more consecutive days.

To the Japanese government, the report recommends it hasten development of a national action plan on business and human rights, implement legislation for corporate responsibility reporting, mandatory due diligence of human rights impacts in supply chains, and a customs code to provide publicly available tracking information of imported products, and restrict imports of products made through forced labour.