Blog: Migrant Labor

COVID-19 Impact on Migrant Workers in Thailand

The partial lockdown of Bangkok and order by the Thai Interior Ministry to close 18 border points taking effect on March 23 triggered a mass exodus of migrant workers from Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos, with estimates ranging between 60,000 and 200,000 people having left the country.  Few were able to practice social distancing in the crowded bus stations and border areas, raising fears of infection.

U.S. TIP Report 2019: A missed opportunity for Freedom of Association in Thailand?

The 2019 U.S. Department of State Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report was released last week. Rightly so, Thailand remained at its previous ranking of Tier 2. This ranking is reserved for countries that do not meet the minimum standards to address human trafficking but are making efforts to do so. Maintaining the Tier 2 status is consistent with the Thai Seafood Working Group’s recommendation, yet the U.S. government missed an opportunity to focus Thai authorities and businesses on the structural changes needed to prevent labor trafficking in the country.

International Buyers Must Prevent Thailand Backtracking on Convention

Many people around the world have been horrified by reports of human rights abuses in the seafood industry. A 2014 article in the Guardian sounded alarm bells that all seafood purchasers large and small should answer. But the issue of slavery in the seafood supply chain is larger and more complex than consumers or even companies can tackle alone. Large multinational companies have had to band together to form the Seafood Taskforce, and yet government action is still needed.

Worker Voice Without Worker Agency Fails Seafood Workers

“Worker voice” is the current buzzword among corporate social responsibility professionals seeking to end labor exploitation in the seafood industry, yet the original meaning of worker voice – in which workers form associations to collectively bargain for better conditions on an equal footing with employers – is nowhere to be found.

How President Trump is Fueling Honduran Migration North

Today, Juan Orlando Hernandez takes the oath of office as President of Honduras with the full support of President Trump – despite overwhelming evidence of election irregularities and allegations of fraud in last November’s presidential election in Honduras. This past week, Hondurans young and old took to the streets in a nationwide strike to denounce their stolen democracy, determined to liberate their country from what they call a de-facto dictatorship. Hernandez’s National Party came to power in a 2009 military coup d’état and continues its violent reign today, supported and funded by the United States. 

The highs and lows of the 2017 TIP Report

Last week, the U.S. Department of State delivered its annual Trafficking in Persons report. Though the report is much anticipated each year by anti-trafficking advocates, this year drew extra attention as the first report released by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in the Trump administration, and in the wake of two straight years of allegations that political considerations had weighted some country rankings.

There is much in this report for which the State Department should be commended, in particular:

TPP Ignores Workers' Needs and Fails to Address Weaknesses from Past Trade Agreements

The text of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) finally became accessible to workers and the public last week, though insiders from more than 500 major companies have had access to the negotiation and writing process for years. The result predictably values the rights of corporations over the needs of workers and fails to address the most glaring weakness of past trade deals: the utter failure of the parties to uphold their commitments to respect workers' rights.

Obama Administration grants unwarranted TIP Upgrades

The State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP Report) is a potent annual assessment of governments’ efforts to combat human trafficking that subjects the worst offenders to sanctions. At its best, it provides human rights organizations, unions, and others committed to the fight against human trafficking with a tool to hold governments accountable for their efforts to prevent this egregious crime, protect its victims and prosecute the offenders. It is designed to be a balanced standard against which all governments, including the United States, can be judged on their progress on this one issue of vital importance to humankind. The 2015 TIP Report released Monday fell far short of those expectations.

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