A case against two Myanmar migrant workers and a rights advocate was dropped after a court found they had only taken their time cards from their employer’s premises to substantiate claims of labour abuse.
Thammakaset Company Limited, which runs chicken farms, took Ye ye and Soe Yong along with Migrant Worker Rights Network (MWRN) officer Suthasinee Kaewleklai to court after learning they had taken the company’s timecards off the premises without permission.
The timecards had been presented to the Lop Buri labour inspector as evidence of alleged labour abuse. The workers claim they were made to work beyond the eight hours they were being paid for.
Suthasinee also posted a photo of the timecard on social media to rally support.
Last Friday, Lop Buri Provincial Court resolved that the workers had no ill intentions and had only taken the timecards to present as evidence, so their action did not fall into the criminal definition of theft. The court added that the original card had in no way been altered or amended.
The court also reminded the farm owner that he is required by law to present the timecards to the labour inspector anyway.
No grounds were found for the case against Suthasinee either.
Though she was pleased with the court’s decision, Suthasinee said she was still worried about employers making legal threats.
“I am concerned that other companies will follow suit and use criminal prosecution to harass workers and labour rights activists,” she said.
She was also worried that more workers will be caught up in time-consuming lawsuits.
Sutharee Wannasiri, a Thailand human rights specialist with Fortify Rights, said: “Thailand’s initiatives to promote and implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights are undermined when businesses continue to bring unwarranted criminal prosecutions against workers or human rights defenders who report alleged abuse.
“Thai authorities and national institutions, including the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand, should put in place laws and policies to prevent retaliatory moves to silence workers and human rights advocates,” she said.