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Thailand richtet Wirtschaftszonen ein

Erstellt von DisainaM, 07.06.2007, 19:44 Uhr · 0 Antworten · 612 Aufrufe

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    Thailand richtet Wirtschaftszonen ein

    Toiling in Thailand's sweatshops

    Ed Cropley

    Tuesday, June 05, 2007

    The Thai government grandly calls it an "export- processing zone." A
    more appropriate term for the town of Mae Sot, nestled in jungle-clad
    hills on the border with army-ruled Burma, might be "sweatshop labor

    Connected to Burma by a bridge that opened a decade ago, the once-
    sleepy town is home to 235 mainly garment factories, manned by 36,000
    legally registered migrant workers - and probably at least four times
    that number of illegal ones.

    Despite labor laws guaranteeing legal migrants basic rights such as a
    standard eight-hour working day, paid overtime and a minimum wage, the
    regulations are universally flouted, workers say.

    Conditions are harsh in the factories, most of them Chinese- or
    Taiwanese-owned and set up with special government investment and
    export privileges. Clothes are exported to the United States and
    Japan, among other markets.

    Typically, migrants work 12-hour days, get one day off a month and are
    paid around half the province's 147 baht (HK$34.68) daily minimum

    "There were no fans and it was very hot," said Ya Zar, 38, a geography
    graduate from Rangoon University who worked in a knitting factory for
    four years before ill health forced him to quit.

    "Sometimes the women got affected by the heat and fainted. A lot of
    workers couldn't get enough rest so they became tired and sick," said
    Ya Zar, who now works for the Joint Action Committee for Burmese
    Affairs, which promotes labor rights among Burmese migrants.

    Although there was no evidence found of child labor - Thai law defines
    anybody aged 15 or above as eligible to work - an International Labor
    Organization report last year accused the Mae Sot factories of
    treating teenage workers like slaves.

    "Mae Sot has perfected a system where children are literally working
    day and night, week after week, for wages that are far below the legal
    minimum wage, to the point of absolute exhaustion," the report

    Aumnat Nanthahan, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries in Mae
    Sot, 430 kilometers northwest of Bangkok, denies workers are
    underpaid, saying employers deduct board and food from workers living
    on-site, as well as administrative expenses.

    "It depends on their food and where they are staying," Aunmant said.
    "The Thai labor law is very strict. Workers work for eight hours a day
    and beyond that is overtime. Maybe they choose no overtime because it
    is their culture."

    Many workers said dormitory conditions were so cramped they could
    hardly sleep and the food was inedible.

    "Our employer used to give us dirty water to drink and the rice was so
    poor we couldn't eat it," said Yin Ma, 32, who has been working in Mae
    Sot for four years and sending money back to her family in central

    Unlike many of her colleagues, Yin Ma knew about Thai labor laws, but
    when she tried to complain her employer took her work permit,
    technically making her an illegal immigrant.

    "I was scared that if I complained the police would come and I would
    be deported," she said.

    Only when she had quit did she have the time and courage to seek help
    from a Thai legal charity and take her claim for 40,000 baht in unpaid
    wages and overtime from her former boss, a Chinese businessman, to
    court. If successful, the ruling could provide a major boost to the
    570,000 Burmese and 743,000 Laotians and Cambodians legally working in
    Thailand's farming, fisheries, industrial and construction sectors.

    Despite the privations, many workers appear happy, saying they are
    better off than being in Burma, where four decades of military rule,
    economic mismanagement and Western sanctions have left the economy in

    Mr Song, a Taiwanese factory manager, said the low wages are still way
    higher than anything available in Burma. "We try to help them and do
    the best for them because their homes and families are not in
    Thailand," he said.

    He declined to give the name of his factory.

    Labor activists have tried to put pressure on the factories by
    targeting the big-name brands that buy from them. The factories have
    thwarted that strategy by stitching on labels elsewhere.

    "We think the clothes go to the United States, but we don't know the
    brand," said Aung Kyaw Soe. "They sew all the labels on at another
    place in Bangkok."



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