Burmese nationals who were being forced to work long hours for little pay at a shrimp factory in Thailand’s Samut Prakan province were released after their trafficker was arrested in Burma.
According to Monk Zawtika of the Burmese Association of Thailand (BAT), 22 Burmese migrants were forced to work 18 hours every day with no time off and were paid as approximately 200 Baht (US$ 6) per week.
“They were locked up in the factory and not allowed to go anywhere – not even on Sundays. They didn’t get any days off and had to start work during the early hours at around 3am in the morning till 8pm in the evening,” said Zawtika.
A majority of the migrants were from Pegu division’s Taungoo township and were trafficked into Thailand two months ago by a ‘job broker’ who promised them employment in Samut Prakan’s Mahachai, where they were told they would be paid 270 Baht (US$ 9) a day and an extra 55 Baht (US$ 1.80) for overtime.
One of the rescued workers told DVB that their employer threatened them with arrest if they refused to work.
“We were barely paid enough for food and became really exhausted from work after missing sleep. We didn’t get any days off either. The other day, I got a stomachache and I was told I could either go to the hospital or jail,” said the worker.
“They also threatened to send girls to brothels.”
The alleged trafficker was arrested in Burma last week after Burmese migrants in Thailand contacted their families back home and told them about the racket. After hearing the news, the employer let the workers go Wednesday.
Zawtika said the BAT has made the necessary arrangements with authorities in Myawaddy, on the Burmese side of the border, to assist the workers with their journey back home.