Migrant workers from Myanmar face defamation charges

Fourteen migrant workers from Myanmar have appeared in a Thai court on criminal defamation charges brought by their employer, which they accused of gruelling, illegal working conditions.

The New York-based group Human Rights Watch urged that the defamation case be dropped, saying it was brought in retaliation for the workers reporting labor abuse, including 20-hour work days and underpayment.

Thailand’s Department of Labour Protection and Welfare has already ordered the employer, Thammakaset Farm, to pay them a total of 1.7 million baht ($50,000) in compensation and damages, rejecting the workers’ claim of about $1.3 million. A court also rejected a lawsuit by the workers alleging forced labour.

Thammakaset Farm, a supplier of poultry to Thai agribusiness giant Betagro, says the workers’ allegations defamed it.

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