Thailand: NGOs allege ongoing recruitment fees & migrant worker abuses at supplier to global electronics brands; Incl. co. responses
From 2016 to 2018, Electronics Watch and the Migrant Worker Rights Network (MWRN) documented excessive recruitment-related fees and expenses that migrant workers from Myanmar pay to get a job at two sites of Cal-Comp Electronics (Thailand). Their report reveals that while working conditions have improved in some respects following buyer intervention, industry attempts to detect, remedy and prevent excessive recruitment fees and related forced labour risk have not yet been effective.
Cal-Comp is one of the leading employers of migrant workers in Thailand with an estimated migrant workforce of more than 13,000 workers, the vast majority from Myanmar. Cal-Comp’s parent company, New Kinpo Group, is a member of the Responsible Business Alliance (RBA). CalComp supplies printers, external hard disk drives and other computer peripherals to global electronics brands. Electronics Watch has shared findings and recommendations on unlawful migrant worker employment and recruitment practices at CalComp with Cal-Comp, NKG, buyers and RBA over two years to spur improvements and minimise forced labour risks.
Based on the most recent findings, Electronics Watch and MWRN are calling for Cal-Comp to urgently:
- Fully reimburse all migrant workers who have paid illegal and excessive recruitment fees.
- Prevent forced labour risks through zero-cost recruitment in accordance with the widely endorsed Employer Pays Principle. Cal-Comp should itself pay migrant workers’ total recruitment-related service fees and expenses in advance and ensure recruitment agents do not themselves charge workers fees.
In March 2019, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre wrote to New Kinpo Group and its subsidiary Cal-Comp Electronics, in addition to Hitachi, Huawei, HP, Konica Minolta, Lexmark, Panasonic, Ricoh, Seagate Technology, Sharp, Toshiba and Western Digital, inviting them to respond to the allegations made in the report. New Kinpo Group, Cal-Comp Electronics, Huawei, Panasonic and Western Digital did not respond.
Toshiba, Lexmark and Sharp responded that they did not have sourcing relationships with Cal-Comp in Thailand during the report's documentation period. Hitachi said while it did not source directly from Cal-Comp, it does purchase electronic devices from companies listed in the report and has recently translated its procurement guidelines into Thai. All responses are included below.
HP, Konica Minolta, and Seagate said they were investigating and working with Cal-Comp to improve the situation. Ricoh said it will work with its suppliers in Thailand to protect human rights in its supply chain and started RBA-based supplier audits in 2018. Their responses are also included below.