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2 Aug 2016

Kate Hodal, Guardian (UK)

Thailand: Slave-like conditions reported in chicken export industry

“Thailand: poultry workers cry fowl amid claim they ‘slept on floor next to 28,000 birds’”, 1 Aug 2016

…By day, says Myint, he would kill up to 500 birds for use in items such as ready meals and pet food. By night…he and his fellow Myanmarese workers claim they slept on the floor in a room with up to 28,000 chickens, swatting away insects. If a bird got sick, they were to blame.

The workers claim that if they were too tired to work, their meagre salaries were docked. If they wanted to leave, too bad – their passports had been confiscated. A once-weekly, two-hour-long supervised visit to a local market for personal groceries was their only opportunity to see the outside world…

…Thailand, one of the world’s biggest chicken exporters, is better known for its troubled seafood industry, rife with practices akin to modern-day slavery. But the Thai poultry industry – which exports roughly 41% of its entire broiler poultry meat production to Europe – is similarly riddled with allegations of abuse, debt bondage, document confiscation, high recruitment fees, long working hours and abysmal pay, research has found.

Rural, isolated farms mean abuses often go unnoticed or unpunished, while complicated supply chains mean global buyers are frequently ignorant of workplace problems, activists say. Thammakaset Farm 2, where Myint was employed, directly supplied Betagro. The company is one of Thailand’s top five chicken exporters along with Charoen Pokphand Foods (CP Foods), Cargill, GFPT and Leamthong, which together account for 70-75% of all Thai chicken exports

In a statement issued earlier this month, Betagro confirmed that Thammakaset Farm 2 was one of its suppliers, but said it had since “stopped business operations with the farm until there is a solution to the labour conflict”….