Posted by Alex Williams on October 6, 2013
Thailand has a booming economy. It’s GDP per capita is eight times what it was in 1980. Life expectancy is up by 15 years compared to 1970. High valued jobs are being occupied, 80 per cent of its reproducing population uses birth control; it’s all hunky-dory. Hell, even the unemployment rate in Thailand is 0.9 per cent (The US jobless rate is 7.3 per cent, the United Kingdom’s is 7.7 per cent). Yet, despite all of this great news, and much like other growing and “sufficient” economies, Thailand is dependent on cheap labor to fill menial jobs in order to keep the dream alive.
What better way to meet demand than hiring undocumented, low-paid, and trafficked migrants? Migrants, for the most part, mainly coming from Myanmar, with some from Cambodia and Laos, who are partly forced into labour.
One example of the remedial jobs that need to be fulfilled is Thailand’s critical shrimp-peeling industry. Thailand produces one quarter of the 2.6 million tonnes of the world’s annual yearly shrimp output. Around 90 per cent of that quarter is exported, which makes Thailand the world’s biggest exporter for shrimp. Due to shrimp exportation alone, Thailand raked in $3.5 billion in 2011, a little under 1 per cent of its GDP.
Before it’s imported by other countries, Thailand’s shrimps follow a long process of peeling, beheading, deveining and gutting. Yet, the process of cleanly food comes at a dirty price, with shrimp peeling shacks and the workers inside of them working long hours in poor conditions with immoral pay. The abuses of the migrant workers include, but are not limited to, trafficking, forced and child labour, debt bondage and sexual harassment. Around 57 per cent of the workers surveyed have been subject to forced labour practices, with one-third of them trafficked.
The migrants who come there often make more money than they would back at home, like Myanmar .The money usually goes back to supporting the worker’s families. Thailand’s 3 million migrants make up around 10 per cent of its total workforce, with 90 per cent of them working in seafood processing.