Up to 700 Burmese migrant workers in a pineapple factory in Thailand’s southern Prachuap Khiri Khan Province are victims of forced labour, according to a recently released report by Helsinki-based corporate watchdog Finnwatch.
“It's a completely unlawful and abusive situation where they are afraid to leave because their documents have been confiscated by the factory owners,” said Andy Hall, a researcher for the Mahidol Migration Centre in Bangkok.
The workers, including as many as 50 children under the age of 18 and a pregnant woman, are forced to process pineapples for up to 80 hours weekly, in contravention of Thai law.
“The provincial labour welfare office will inspect the factory,” Phongthem Petchsom, a senior labour officer with the Thai Ministry of Labour Protection and Welfare, told IRIN. "Any factory that violates laws will face charges.” Thailand's migrant worker policy needs to be more comprehensive and less ad hoc, says local NGO Mekong Migration Network.