The Migrant Worker Rights Network, a Thailand-based group helping migrant workers from Myanmar, said Don Muang magistrate’s court ruled that the 14 workers were not guilty of the charge brought by Thammakaset.
U Sein Htay, leader of the group, said this was a landmark ruling for migrant workers’ rights, freedom of expression and human rights violations by businesses in Thailand.
However, he said, the employer may submit an appeal to a higher court. If it does, the case could take years to work its way through the appeals process.
“We cannot say that the workers’ case was dismissed, because the employer has the right to lodge appeals,” said U Sein Htay.
Andy Hall, migrant worker rights specialist, who assisted in the workers’ defence, said the court made the judgment after taking into account all witnesses’ testimony in court, the supporting documents submitted to the court, and the workers’ original complaint to the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRCT).
“Based on all the evidence, the workers allegations that they suffered serious labour and human rights abuses whilst working at Thammakaset Farm were true and well-founded,” said Andy Hall.
In July 2016, the 14 workers, including nine men and five women, filed a complaint with the commission against Thammakaset, accusing it of abusing their rights in violation of the kingdom’s Labour Protection Act.
The workers said they were paid less than the minimum wage, they did not receive overtime pay and they had their identity documents, including passports, seized and withheld by the company.
The company, owned by a Thai national in Lopburi province, in October accused the Myanmar migrant workers in court of damaging the company’s reputation by filing the complaint with the commission.