For immediate release on 29 March 2021
26 Myanmar migrant workers accepting 1,039,365.09 baht through a mediation by the Labor Court Region 6, although labor inspector ordering employer to pay employees 3,483,088.14 baht
On 4 November 2020, the Labor Court Region 6 (Mae Sot Provincial Court) had a mediation to settle labor dispute in a case brought by 26 Myanmar migrant workers against Kallayani Ruengrit, the employer who had been ordered by the labor inspector of the Tak Provincial Office of Labor Welfare and Protection as to the order no. 23/2562 dated 13 December 2019, to provide the workers the amount of 3,483,088.14 baht (three million forty four hundred and eighty thousand and three thousand and eighty baht and fifteen satang). After the mediation, the employees agreed to accept 1,039,365.09 baht from the employer.
Background of the case
• On 12 September 2019, a labor inspection team from Bangkok has conducted an inspection of the employer’s factory located at Moo 10, Tambon Phra That Pha Daeng, Mae Sot, Tak, which is a garment factory supplying to international brands including STARBUCK, TESCO, DISNEY, UNIVERSAL. The team has found the employer has failed to act according to the labor protection law.
• 15 October 2019, 26 migrant workers have filed complaints with the labor inspector at the Tak Provincial Office of Labor Welfare and Protection in Mae Sot accusing Kallayani Ruengrit, the employer, of failing to pay them their wage, weekly holiday overtime pay, public holiday overtime pay, other overtime pay, and a compensation in lieu of advance notice.
• 24 December 2019, the labor inspector of the Tak Provincial Office of Labor Welfare and Protection issued an order no. 23/2019 on 13 December 2019 instructing Kallayani Ruengrit, the employer to pay the 26 employees the outstanding wage, weekly holiday overtime pay, public holiday overtime pay, other overtime pay, and a compensation in lieu of advance notice at the amount of 3,483,088.14 baht (three million forty four hundred and eighty thousand and three thousand and eighty baht and fifteen satang).
• Disagreeing with the order no. 23/2019, the employer has filed the case with the court to contest the labor inspector’s order within thirty days since receiving the order. But since the employer has failed to place a deposit with the labor court as instructed by the labor inspector, the labor court has dismissed the case.
• 31 August 2020, the 26 migrant workers with help from the Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF) and MAP Foundation have filed the case against the employer with the Labor Court Region 6 and on 4 November 2020, the court has initiated a mediation procedure through which the employer agreed to pay 1,039,365.09 baht, which is about 30% of the amount awarded by the labor inspector.
• During the mediation, the employees agreed to accept the payment from the employer at a lower amount than what has been awarded by the labor inspector since the issue of COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impact on the employer was invoked and also, such judicial process would have taken a long time to conclude. This would have created burden on the employees as they would not have been able to find a new job. They have thus decided to accept as low as 30% of the amount awarded by the labor inspector.
• Nevertheless, due to robust campaigns and advocacies to demand responsibilities from the companies toward the workers employed in their supply chain. It has turned out that;
o On 27 November 2020, representatives of Tesco have paid the workers at the amount of 736,000 baht.
o On 20 December 2020, Starbucks has paid the workers at the amount of 600,000 baht.
o On 20 December 2020, The Walt Disney has paid the workers at the amount of 600,000 baht.
o NBCUniversal has agreed to pay the workers the rest at the amount of 489,186 baht nd the payment is to be made on 28 March 2021.
Somchai Homlaor, chair person of the Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF) says that migrant workers in Mae Sot and adjacent area designated for Special Economic Zone are employed in garment factories and other factories. They have to work on a regular basis, not seasonal or temporary work, although they have been recruited by virtue of Section 64 of the Royal Ordinance Concerning the Management of Foreign Workers’ Employment, which provides for a short-term employment for three months or so. As a result, such migrant workers have become vulnerable to labor exploitation including receiving pay lower than minimum wage, lacking welfare and employment security since their work contracts are renewed every three months, being prone to dismissal due to their lack of bargaining power. For example, when such employees exercise their right to collective bargaining invoking their right according to Thailand’s labor relations law, it is likely that their employers would not renew their employment contracts.
In addition, Somchai has also found that migrant workers recruited by virtue of Section 64 of the Royal Ordinance are deprived of their access to social security benefits and Workmen’s Compensation Fund even though they are entitled to such rights and even though the Social Security Office has power to investigate and instruct employers or workplaces to register their employees in the Social Security system and the Workmen’s Compensation Fund. Therefore, during the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, such workers are deprived of their access to state relief program, particularly the unemployment benefits. It is critically important for the Thai government to review the procedure concerning the recruitment of migrant workers by virtue of Section 64 of the Royal Ordinance and urgent efforts should be made so that Thailand ratifies the ILO Conventions no. 87 and 98 and to reform labor relations law to allow migrant workers to form a labor union or become a committee member of a labor union. The employing companies are also called on to ensure the management of a sustainable supply chain in compliance with the UN Global Compact Network
For more information, please contact Ms. Jirarat Moonsiri, attorney, phone 089 273 4711