Betagro & Thammakaset lawsuits (re labour exploitation in Thailand)
In 2016, 14 Myanmar migrant workers filed a lawsuit against Betagro, a Thai food corporation, for alleged mistreatment at one of its poultry suppliers Thammakaset. The workers allege forced labour, restrictions on movement, passport confiscation, and unlawful salary reductions. In response, Thammakaset filed several defamation suits against former workers, journalists, and activists for raising awareness regarding the alleged labour abuses.
Our page covering these defamation suits can be found here.
On 2 September 2016, 14 Myanmar migrants filed a lawsuit at a labour court in Saiburi province, southern Thailand, against Betagro, a major Thai food corporation. The lawsuit seeks compensation and civil damages for alleged mistreatment at a poultry farm in the central Lopburi province in Thailand, Thammakaset 2, that supplies Betagro. The workers allege that they suffered serious abuses at the factory, such as forced labour, restrictions on movement, passport confiscation, and unlawful salary reductions. They claim, they were forced to work 22-hour shifts without extra pay and proper breaks, while their salaries came to less than minimum wage. The 14 workers seek 44 million Thai Baht (about $1.25 million) in damages and compensation.
In June 2016, Betagro's decision to stop buying from Thammakaset was reported and the company said it had "stopped business operations with the farm until there is a solution for the labour conflict."
In August 2016, the Lopburi Department of Labour Protection and Welfare ordered Thammakaset, to pay the past wages of the 14 workers for an amount of 1.7 million Thai Baht (about $52,000). Thammakaset appealed and the Region 1 Labour Court rejected its first appeal. On 14 September 2017, the Supreme court of Thailand dismissed Thammakaset's second appeal and approved the compensation order.
On 15 January 2019, the Supreme Court of Thailand ordered the immediate payment of the 1.7 million Thai Baht (about $52,000) awarded by the Lopburi Department of Labour Protection and Welfare in August to the 14 migrant workers. On 12 March 2019, after an appeal by Thammakaset, the Central Labour Court (also known as the Supreme Labourt Court) issued a statement confirming the payment of the 1.7 million Thai Baht to the 14 migrant workers.
In response to the lawsuit, Thammakaset filed numerous defamation complaints against former workers, journalists, and activists for either raising awareness about the labour abuse they had suffered or speaking in support of the labourers. A full list of the defamation suits can be found here: Thammakaset lawsuits against former workers (re defamation on labour conditions, Thailand).
This Story thread follows the developments of these cases and the following materials should also be considered:
- Foreign Trade Association's statement calling out for out-of-court settlement of cases filed, 11 July 2017
- The Permanent Mission of Thailand to the United Nations and other International Organizations submitted the govertment's response to the OHCHR in relation to, among others, the cases involving Thammakaset (30 January 2019). This contains a list of pending and resolved cases involving Thammakaset.
- Fact Sheet: Thammakaset vs. human rights defenders and workers in Thailand by The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (May 2019)
- UN experts condemn abuse of judicial system by Thammakaset to harass human rights defenders(March 2020)
Business & Human Rights Resource Centre tracks these cases in other threads:
- Thailand: Thammakaset must stop legal harassment of human rights defenders & workers who exposed labour rights abuses at poutry farm, says NGOs;
- Thailand: Supreme Court orders compensation for 14 migrant workers accusing Thammakaset farm of labour exploitation
- Thailand: Thammakaset sues HRDs for defamation on work supporting chicken farmers; groups urge gov't to stop judicial harassment
- Corporate Legal Accountability Quarterly Bulletin: Parent company liability for extraterritorial abuse