MANY MIGRANTS working as waiters, gardeners and cleaners in Thailand's booming tourism sector suffer discrimination, are paid below minimum-wage levels and get no paid leave, according to an investigation of labour abuse in the country.
More than 30 million tourists are expected to visit Thailand’s palm-fringed islands, white beaches, temples and vibrant nightlife this year, and the thriving sector accounts for some 10 per cent of gross domestic product.
However, a report on Wednesday by Swedish groups Schyst Resande and Fair Action found evidence that many migrant workers from Myanmar were being exploited in the southern resort destinations of Khao Lak and Phuket at hotels used by three of Sweden’s top tour operators.
In all, 29 migrants were interviewed for the report, 18 of them working mainly as cleaners, gardeners and waiters in seven hotels used by REWE Group’s Apollo, TUI Group’s Fritidsresor and Thomas Cook Group’s Ving.
Firms providing services and goods to the hotels, including a bakery and a laundry company, employed the others.
“Among those we interviewed, it seems worse for those that work at the suppliers. They have longer working days, get less vacation and they also face a lot of discrimination,” said Fair Action project manager Amanda Soderlund.
In a joint statement, Ving, Fritidsresor and Apollo said violations of national and international laws could mean the termination of a contract with a hotel.
“There are few companies and organisations that can control all supply chains in all countries,” the statement said. “Ving, Fritidsresor and Apollo are together working with thousands of hotels worldwide, [and] it is difficult for us to follow up on all these individual hotels.”
The operators said that was why they were working with Travelife, a certification scheme for hotels focused on environmental standards and fair working conditions.