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Agricultural workers

Individual Documents

Title: Home Stretch
Date of publication: October 2010
Description/subject: Many Burmese working in Thailand’s rubber industry extend their stay indefinitely, as dreams of returning home with substantial savings prove elusive... "With rubber plantations covering nearly four percent of its total land area, Thailand is the world’s largest producer and exporter of rubber. But achieving an output of more than three million tons of rubber each year takes more than just vast expanses of land. It also requires a huge workforce, and in Thailand, this comes largely courtesy of neighboring Burma. Nobody knows exactly how many Burmese work in Thailand’s rubber plantations, but it is generally acknowledged that the industry couldn’t survive without them. Tapping the trees and harvesting the latex to make sheets of raw rubber is labor-intensive work, demanding full attention both night and day. It’s not a job that appeals to many Thais, but Burma’s crippled economy means that Thailand’s rubber plantations have no shortage of ready and willing workers..."
Author/creator: Kyaw Thein Kha
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy" Vol. 18, No. 10
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 22 July 2012


Title: The Mekong Challenge - Underpaid, Overworked and Overlooked: The realities of young migrant workers in Thailand: Vol. 2 (1) - The Agriculture Sector
Date of publication: 13 December 2006
Description/subject: Conclusions: 4.1 Indications of labour exploitation Although forced labour is negligible in Nakhon Pathom's agriculture sector, migrant workers faced several forms of labour exploitation, particularly a lack of freedom of movement, and regular days off. Also, many were not in possession of their identification documents, while they do not receive paid leave... 4.2 Legal status and registration Although the registration of workers provides some legal protection and minimizes the exploitation of migrant workers, over a third of workers in agriculture are not registered. Approximately two thirds of registered workers who had their registration costs paid by the employers were in effect bonded labour and were required to pay back the costs via deductions from their wages. Nonetheless, the majority of workers expressed positive attitudes towards registration, particularly with regard to job security, safety and health insurance. A lack of time to register and lack of information regarding the registration process were the main reasons why some migrants did not register... 4.3 Working conditions The challenges facing migrants in terms of working conditions included very low pay, restricted freedom of movement, long working hours without overtime pay and not having possession of their original ID documents. The average daily payment of 100- 150 baht per day for agricultural workers is below the minimum wage. Low wages is one reason why migrant workers switch farms in search of higher wages. A high turnover of workers is of great concern amongst employers. Yet perhaps if they were willing to pay rates equal to or above the minimum wage, the migrant workers would not be in such a hurry to leave. Nearly all migrant workers live on the site of their workplace. Workers are isolated from the local community and seldom integrate with the community. None of the employers speak the language of their migrant workers and at the same time the majority of workers have little knowledge of Thai. However, given the nature of farm work, there seems little that can be done in this regard, except perhaps consider more mobile services, which could visit migrant workers living on farms... 4.4 Employers' attitudes Some negative attitudes towards migrant workers exist among employers. Well over two thirds felt migrant workers should be locked up at night to prevent them escaping. This view was particularly prevalent among by livestock farmers... 4.5 Support mechanisms Social networks play a significant role in terms of support for migrant workers in the agricultural sector, and family and friends provide this. More than two thirds turn to their relatives when facing problems or when they are in need of healthcare. This reflects the fact that most child migrant workers reside with their relatives or parents. None of the workers referred to NGO staff for support. The only chance workers had to make contact with people was with government officials from the MOL during the registration period. Monks or religious leaders and employers were relatively important to the workers. The fact that child workers rely on their social network because they are more likely to live with family and friends on site could perhaps help safeguard them from exploitation in this sector... 4.6 Child labour Under Thai law, children under the age of 15 are not permitted to work. Although a few were interviewed, the agriculture sector in Nakhon Pathom province employs a greater number of children aged 15 and up. Employers seem to regard children as being more obedient. Children under the age of 15 were all unregistered and underpaid when compared with workers in other age groups. The violation of the law and exploitation of child labour requires particular attention.
Language: English, Thai
Source/publisher: International Labour Organisation
Format/size: pdf (English - 354K; Thai - 369K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.ilo.org/public/english/region/asro/bangkok/child/trafficking/downloads/vol2-agriculture-...
Date of entry/update: 03 May 2008