Human Traffic Watch

Walmart’s Human Trafficking Problem

In Forced Labor, Human Trafficking on September 22, 2012 at 8:54 am

But labor organizers on the ground say that problems at the factory ran far deeper. Among other complaints, some workers said they were provided inadequate toilet facilities and given insufficient bathroom breaks, obliging them at times to relieve themselves in corners of the factory. Far worse, labor organizers say, many of the migrant workers at the Songkhla facility found themselves in conditions amounting to debt bondage. Workers told organizers that many of them paid recruiters excessive placement and transport fees to get the jobs. Managers at the plant took portions of their wages to pay these debts, workers said, as well as various “fees” to the company for accommodation, utilities, and other necessities. Several workers said that before the strike they were promised 26 days of work per month, but often were only given 10 to 14 days of work, going unpaid when the factory was idle.

Some workers were receiving so little pay after deductions that they couldn’t afford sufficient food. Before the strike, they were reportedly catching minnows and snails for meals. Despite the legal requirement that workers be enrolled in Thailand’s social security system to receive health care, the company failed to sign the workers up, meaning workers had to pay out of pocket for any medical treatment for injuries or sickness.

Workers who wanted to leave found it difficult, organizers say, because their official documents, including work permits, health cards, ID cards, and passports, were reportedly confiscated and held by factory management to prevent workers from running away. New workers were told they would only get their documents back after their debts were paid off—a key criterion used in legal cases to prove human trafficking.

Source: World Policy 

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