Slaves at a Shrimp Factory in Thailand

In the previous post, I mentioned Thailand traditionally produced and exported rice, sugar, pineapples, and rubber. But, its traditional role complemented with an expanding array of non national exports, such as canned tuna, shrimp, processed meats, and fresh and processed fruits and vegetable (McMichael, 2000, p.102).

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As this pie chart indicates, the shrimp occupied 16% of the Thailand exports. Thailand’s biggest export market is the United States with a share of 42%, against Japan’s 24 % and 13% for the EU (BOI, 2013). Thailand changed their tradition to fill the demand from First World nations.

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But, today, I would like to inform about the working condition of the slaves in a shrimp factory, named Gig Peeling factory, at Samut Sakhon, Thailand. In this factory,most of the laborer’s works are ripping the guts, heads, tails and shelling off shrimp bound for overseas market such as the US, Japan and Europe (Mason, 2015). Most of the laborers are migrants from Burma. The writer from Associated Press reported,”Every morning  at 2 am, they heard a kick on the door and a threat; Get up or get beaten. No names were ever used, only numbers given by their boss. Some had been there for months, even years, getting little or no pay. Always, someone was watching (Mason, 2015).” They are terribly treated like slaves or prisoner in the factory.

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According to the report, “abuse is common in Samut Sakhon, which attracts workers from some of the world’s poorest countries, mostly from Burma and Myanmar (Mason, 2015).” “An International Labor Organization report estimated 10,000 migrant children aged 13 to 15 work in the city. Another U.N. agency study found nearly 60 percent of Burmese laborers toiling in its seafood processing industry were victims of forced labor.(Mason, 2015)”

Historically, Thailand have many immigrants from other Southeast Asian countries. In 1975, since communist governance was established in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, over three million people have migrated out of those countries. At that time, about 750 thousands immigrants arrived at Thailand (Frost,1980). Therefore, it is  hard for Thai government to grasp fully immigrants.

In 2008, a Thai low against human trafficking was passed. “It insisted that every illegal immigrant should now get temporary papers and be properly registered, or face deportation (The Economist, 2013).” However, arresting and prosecuting those factory owner are rare because of theCorruption and complicity among police and authorities. Moreover, “raids can end up sending migrants without proper paperwork to jail, while owners go unpunished (Mason, 2015).”

According to the article, more than 2,000 trapped fishermen have been freed this year as a result of an ongoing Associated Press investigative series into slavery in the Thai seafood industry. However, there are still many people who are suffering under the similar working conditions. Globalization allow the people easily move from country to other countries. Migrants move to other country in pursuit of higher livelihood. However, the profit from cheap labor cost of migrants goes to the factory in Thailand and to the First World nations’s consumers as well.

 

Citation

 

*Jittapong, K., & Dhanananphorn, M. (2014). Thailand’s shrimp output seen recovering from disease woes in 2015. Retrieved April 09, 2016, from http://www.reuters.com/article/thailand-shrimp-exports-idUSL3N0U22KB20141218

*Mason, M., McDowell, R., & Mendoza, M. (2015, December 14). AP: Global supermarkets selling shrimp peeled by slaves. Retrieved April 09, 2016, from http://bigstory.ap.org/article/8f64fb25931242a985bc30e3f5a9a0b2/ap-global-supermarkets-selling-shrimp-peeled-slaves

* Board of Investment Thailand(2013, October). Thailad: Food Exports Soaring.Retrieved May 1, 2016, from http://www.boi.go.th/tir/issue/201310_23_10/42.htm

*Frost, F.. (1980). VIETNAM, ASEAN AND THE INDOCHINA REFUGEE CRISIS.Southeast Asian Affairs, 347–367. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/27908412

*A deadly cocktail. (2013, March 02). Retrieved May 01, 2016, from http://www.economist.com/news/asia/21572800-long-standing-worker-abuses-get-some-serious-attention-deadly-cocktail

4 thoughts on “Slaves at a Shrimp Factory in Thailand”

  1. Awesome post Kenta. It’s crazy that this sort of stuff can still go on in this day and age. I hadn’t heard about this issue until just now but it is definitely that awareness should be risen and resurrected. It would also be interesting to learn what is keeping the workers who aren’t getting paid from just leaving. Are their lives being threatened? Keep bloggin!

  2. Hi Kenta,

    Thanks for an interesting post! I’m wondering about the point you were trying to make by bringing up increased immigration. Are you saying immigration between countries is a positive outcome of globalization and cheap labor is not? Also, is there a problem with Thai people leaving Thailand in search of higher wages or conversely, a problem with increased immigrant influx from other countries searching for factory jobs?

    Thanks!
    Maddy

  3. That was a really interesting post about the labor aspect in the export fish products from Thailand! It’s scary to think that there is such a level of corruption that forced labor is commonplace. I’d be interested in learning about what kind of activist movements have taken place and the sort of work being done by the investigators of Associated Press.

  4. I liked your post, but the part about Globalization you stated that it allows people to move from country to other countries easily. It would be nice to add examples or someones story. Although, the process is difficult for citizens to immigrate to another country.

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