THAILAND: 420 Burmese workers fired and deported for demanding their legal rights 


Urgent Appeal Case: UA-23-2003

THAILAND: Case of abuse of migrant worker rights in Mae Sot, Thailand

Dear Friends


On 23 June, 420 legal Burmese workers from the King Body Concept Co. Factory were dismissed and deported for submitting a complaint after a dispute over wages and working conditions. All these workers were legally registered under the Thai Ministry of Labor scheme.

According to Thai Law, registered workers must receive the same rights and protection as Thai workers. The minimum wage in Tak province is 133 baht per day, with 25 baht per hour for overtime work. However, the Burmese workers earned only 55 baht per day, with 5 baht an hour for overtime work at the King Body Concept Factory. Their normal working hours were from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and they were frequently forced to work overtime. During peak production periods, the workers were sometimes forced to work until 3 a.m. The factory owner also withholds the original copy of the Burmese workers¡¯ work permits, violating Thai immigration law. The factory owner also charged 300 baht monthly for basic housing and rice to the Burmese workers. Moreover, the owner levies a further unexplained 3% tax on the workers¡¯ salaries. Besides this, working environment at the factory is very poor. There is not enough water for drinking or bathing; the dormitory is overcrowded and the toilets are filthy and stinking.

On June 18, the 420 Burmese workers sent a statement to their employer and demanded higher wages and an improvement in the working environment. However, they didn’t get any response from the employer. On June 20, 2003, the workers sent a formal letter of complaint to the Tak Labor Protection and Welfare office. The Labor Protection office said that they would send a labor official on June 23 to mediate the problem. When the workers went to the factory on June 20, the factory managers told them that there was no work for three days until June 22, 2003, even though the workers usually have worked on Saturdays and Sundays.

On June 23, the labor official held a meeting at the factory with the factory owner and 10 workers elected to be representatives. However, before the meeting the factory owner called the local and immigration police and Border patrol soldiers. The owner said that he wanted to dismiss all of the workers because they had not worked for the last three days. The workers then asked for the two months compensation that they were entitled to according to the law. The owner refused to pay the compensation and said that he would only pay their last month¡¯s salaries to the workers.

After that, all the workers were sent to the immigration detention on June 23, 2003 and deported to Burma. This action, taken by the owner of the King Body Concept Co.’s garment factory and the Thai immigration against the Burmese workers, directly violate Thai law. According to the Thai law, it guarantees the period of 7 days for the workers to find new jobs and the employer should pay the workers two months minimum wages if they do not want employ the workers.

On Oct 7, 2002, a knitting factory in Mae Sot discharged and deported 26 Burmese workers who called for a wage raise. The migrants returned to Mae Sot and sued the factory owner for 4.6 million baht compensation with help from the Migrant Assistance Program. The case is still going on. According to Burmese workers in Maw Sot, the Liang Thong factory is operating once again, with wages for the new Burmese migrants starting at 30 to 40 baht per day. The workers expect the King Body Concept factory to follow the same pattern of re-hiring new migrants at a lower rate of pay.

Please send a letter to:

Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra
Prime Minister
Government house,
Pitsanulok Road, Dusit District,
Bangkok 10300
Fax: +66 2 282 8631

Prof. Saneh Chamrik
The National Human Rights Commissoner
Street Address: 422 Phya Thai Road
Pathumwan District, Bangkok 10330
Tel: +66 2 219 2940
Fax: +66 2 219 2940

Mr Y. Nodera, Regional Director
ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific
United Nations Building, 11th Floor
Rajdamnern Nok Avenue, P.O. Box 2-349
Bangkok 10200, Thailand
Tel: 66 2 288 1710, 288 1755 (Regional Director)
Tel: 66 2 288 1712, 288 1785 (Deputy Regional Director)
Fax: 66 2 288 3056 (direct), 288 3062

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Re: 420 Burmese workers fired and deported for demanding their legal rights in Mae Sot

I am very concerned by reports that 420 legal workers from Burma, employed at the King Body Concept Co. Factory in Mae Sot, were fired and deported to Burma on June 23, 2003. This action, taken by the owner of the King Body Concept Co.'s garment factory and the Thai immigration against the Burmese workers, directly violates Thai law. Thai law guarantees a period of 7 days for a worker to find a new job, and the employer should pay the worker two months minimum wages if they do not want to employ the worker. I am also concerned that the Thai immigration is deeply involved in this incident. 

I urge the Thai government to take action against the owner of the King Body Concept Co. Factory who has violated the Thai law and has abused the rights of migrant workers. I also urge that all the workers who were dismissed from the factory be awarded fair wages and compensation even though they were repatriated. I also urge the Thai government to provide equal treatment to all migrant workers, and to respect the rights and dignity of migrant workers according to the current Thai Law and International Labor Law. I further urge the Thai government to ratify International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, which entered into force on July 1, 2003 and create policy to protect migrant workers in full compliance with the Convention.

Yours faithfully


Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission
Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : UA-23-2003
Countries : Thailand,