Thai police rescue trafficked Burmese workers

Thai police rescue trafficked Burmese workers

Authorities in Thailand’s Ratchaburi Province have helped 17 migrant factory workers from Burma who are victims of human trafficking.

Employment Department director-general Arak Prommanee said yesterday the department had been contacted by human rights activists claiming two migrant workers had fled from a coconut processing factory in the province in search of help.

The workers told them 17 more workers from Burma were still trapped in the factory. Arak said an inspection by the the department and police confirmed 17 migrant workers from Burma were working at the factory illegally and under poor conditions.

The workers were taken out of the factory yesterday. Authorities seized the workers’ passports, cash, bank deposit accounts and mobile phones as part of the investigation. A man from Burma who was also at the factory was detained by authorities after he was identified as being complicit in the trafficking of the workers.

According to an initial investigation, the rescued workers entered the country legally in November last year with the help of two labour brokerage companies but did not get contract jobs.

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Instead, they were taken to work at factories in several provinces, including Nakhon Pathom, Ratchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Phetchaburi and Kanchanaburi. They did not receive wages and their passports were seized.

They were forced to work at the factories to pay debts of 7,000-8,000 baht (US$200-230) owed to brokers.

An additional fee of 6,000-8,000 baht ($170-230) was imposed on any worker wanting to change jobs. Arak said the department ordered the revocation of the brokers’ licences and will take legal action against those involved.

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