Tuesday, 29 April 2008 by Dr Maytel
New Mandala details allegations of slavery in Thailand's shrimp industry.
Workers said that if they made a mistake on the shrimp peeling line, asked for sick leave, or tried to escape, they could expect to be beaten, sexually molested, or publicly tortured. After interviewing more than 280 workers, police took 63 women and three men to a shelter, suspecting that they had been trafficked and/or forced to work against their will. Another 22 were deported; nearly 80 returned to work at the factory, which remains in operation. Despite widespread worker rights abuses, including child labor and human trafficking, the owner was charged only with employing children under 15 and failing to provide holidays and time off. Though these charges are serious, they were treated as first-time labor code violations. The owner initially only paid a fine of about $2,100 and has returned to work.