The State Enterprise Workers’ Relations Confederation of Thailand (SERC) on Wednesday issued a solidarity statement demanding that Natural Fruit drop criminal and civil lawsuits filed against British migrant labour activist Andy Hall.
“The management of Natural Fruit Company Ltd should withdraw its charges and change the company’s direction, to instead develop workers’ rights mechanisms,” SERC secretary general Savit Kaewvan said.
Finnwatch, which monitors Finnish companies in developing countries and economies in transition, commissioned Andy Hall to coordinate a field research in Thailand which included Natural Fruit, a maker of tinned pineapple and juice concentrate
The workers, some of whom were undocumented migrants, reported poor working conditions, unlawfully low wages, confiscation of official documents, use of child labor and excessive overtime.
Natural Fruit sued Andy Hall after the report and is now demanding 300 million baht damages.
In many situations over the years, the statement said, Mr Hall had exposed violations where employers of migrant workers -from Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos – had violated the law and the human and labour rights of workers.
Those disclosures had increasingly frustrated some employers, government officials and politicians.
The union confederation said the campaigns for migrant workers’ rights led by Andy Hall were always straightforward.
The Criminal Court on Tuesday adjourned the hearing until April 11.
The company has said it is ready to negotiate with Mr Hall, but had been unable to contact him. The company said it was just one of about 20 similar producers in Thailand and had no idea why it was “untruthfully” included in the report as an abuser of migrant labour.