Thailand Migrant Workers Sign Contracts They Don’t Understand, Undercutting Efforts to Stop Abuses

Migrant workers from Cambodia and Myanmar are being asked to sign contracts they cannot read in order to work in Thailand’s fishing fleet, a new study has found, undercutting efforts to expunge abuses from a sector worth billions of dollars to the Southeast Asian country.

Thailand is one of the world’s largest fish and seafood producers, boasting global brands that include John West and Chicken of the Sea.

Authorities have been scrambling for several years to clean up an industry riddled with abuses, though, after grim revelations of human trafficking of Thais and migrant workers, forced work, defaults on payments, beatings and even murders on fishing boats.

All of this contributed to the U.S State Department dropping Thailand onto the worst possible ranking — Tier 3 — of its annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report in 2015, as well as threats by the European Union to suspend seafood imports for alleged illegal and overfishing.

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Vijitra Duangdee