The Burmese Association of Thailand along with Thai authorities rescued 80 Burmese migrant workers that were being illegally held by their employer at the San Tit shrimp factory in Maha Chai near Bangkok.
According to a member of the BAT team the abused workers were confused about the identity of their rescuers.
“We weren’t there to arrest them. We had to explain to the workers that we were trying to save them. Some workers misunderstood our intentions and hid from us. Other workers were confined by their bosses in different places.”
The Burmese Association of Thailand discovered that migrant workers at the factory were not being their wages and had to rely money from their family. A BAT spokesperson said workers had paid 15,000 baht to a job broker to work in the factory.
“We received information about the abuses at the factory. Workers’ had not being paid their proper salary for three or four months. Workers faced financial problems as well as been held captive at the factory. Workers had to ask for money from their families to just quit their jobs.”
A member of a migrant worker group (who did not want to their name used) said.
“A worker’s family told to us that factory workers were being illegally held captive at the factory and asked our group to get them out them. We sent a message to the UN and the UN introduced us to a anti-human trafficking group.”
Ko Myint Oo, a worker at the factory told Karen News that he had to work from 3am until 10pm – 20 hour shift every day with only a short time off for a lunch break. On average each worker had to peel 15 kilograms of prawns everyday.
“We were paid by the kilo. But even if we peeled more than 10 kilo each day, the broker disputed our pay. We were swore at and beaten. The factory owner gave complete authority to the job broker.”
Following the rescue mission Thai police arrested an armed Burmese man accused of being a job broker and detained him at Maha Chai police station. The factory workers say another job broker escaped arrest as he was on a trip to Burma to find more workers for the shrimp factory.
According to the BAT spokesperson the rescued workers are now at a local labor office and under going a process to determine who are legal workers. Legal migrant workers will be allowed to continue working in Thailand and illegal workers will be deported.