Workers abuse is rampant in Thailand’s chicken meat industry

Thailand is a prominent world supplier of poultry meat products. During the last couple of decades the nation’s domestic production has experienced several booms, as the poultry industry has evolved into a main ingredient of Thailand’s objective of becoming “the kitchen of the world”. The EU has become its biggest market for export. About 270, 000 tonnes of poultry meat products were shipped from Thailand to the EU in 2014.

Sweden has imported poultry products from Thailand since at least the late 1990s. In 2014 Thailand was Sweden’s second largest supplier of processed poultry products, after Denmark. Recently Sweden launched a National Action Plan for Business and Human Rights with the explicit expectation that all Swedish companies shall respect human rights, as specified in the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGP). With this report Swedwatch aims to investigate the levels of social responsibility taken by Swedish stakeholders in their trade with Thai suppliers, from the perspective of the above mentioned standards.

Thai industries are grappling with a shortage of domestic labour. Like many of Thailand’s labour intensive sectors the poultry industry too has found a remedy across the borders, in the neighboring countries. In search for better salaries and the possibility to send money back home, millions of migrant workers from mainly Cambodia and Myanmar have formed the lowest level of Thailand’s labour pyramid. Many of these people have also become victims of unscrupulous employers and recruiters as well as corrupt officials. This report indicates that violations of migrant workers’ rights occur in Thailand’s poultry industry, in resemblance to other Thai sectors that have been exposed by the media during the latest years. According to the global labour rights organization Solidarity Center, migrant workers in Thailand experience some of the worst abuse in the world.

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