38th HRC Session: Oral Statement on Labor Conditions in the Thai Poultry Industry

On 25th June 2018, Human Rights Now gave an oral statement on the Labor Conditions in the Thai Poultry Industry at the 38th Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

We highlight the unacceptable working conditions for workers in Thailand’s poultry industry, as detailed in our upcoming report on the Thammakaset Farm case. We call on the Thai government to take action to address conditions in the poultry industry and for international companies to ensure they are not complicit in labour and human rights abuse.

The video and transcript of the statement are available below.

The full text of the statement can be downloaded here.

Thank you, Mr. Vice-President.

Human Rights Now is deeply concerned about serious labour and human rights violations in Thailand’s poultry sector and will soon be releasing a report on the issue.

Thailand is the world’s third largest poultry exporter. The sector’s recent rapid expansion has worsened labour rights violations in farms and factories, creating modern slavery-like conditions. Migrant farm workers are especially vulnerable due to the language barrier and documented discrimination by employers. The Thai government has also identified widespread violations in the poultry sector in a 2016 internal review.

Our report highlights the Thammakaset Farm case, representative of violations in the sector, in which 14 migrant poultry farm workers brought labour claims against their employer. Workers we interviewed reported confiscation of their identity documents, preventing them from leaving the farm, threats of non-payment if they quit, underpayment, and a lack of required breaks and holidays. After their dispute began, the employer also used retaliatory private criminal prosecutions such as defamation to harass the workers and labour activists assisting them.

Mr. Vice-President,

Widespread violations such as these throughout Thailand’s poultry sector call for structural reforms. We urge the Thailand government to facilitate the compliance of Thai poultry farms and factories with labour laws, to develop a National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights based on the UN Guiding Principles on BHR, and to take measures preventing private criminal prosecutions harassing complaining workers and labour activists. We further request the governments of relevant states to adopt legislation strengthening companies’ due diligence standards over suppliers, requiring transparency in their supply chains, and restricting the import of products of forced labour.

Thank you.