More than 150 Burmese migrants who were illegally charged excessive recruitment fees to secure jobs at a Thai garment factory have won a rare compensation payout, company officials and human rights groups said on Friday.
Sheico Thailand, which makes wetsuits for outdoor clothing retailer Patagonia, has made payments totalling more than $100,000 to about 170 Burmese workers, according to Finnwatch, a Finland-based watchdog group. Between 2018 and 2019, the migrant workers had paid up to 18,500 baht ($559) in recruitment fees to agents and to Sheico in order to secure jobs at the factory, according to Thai charity Migrant Workers Rights Network.
Under Thai law, such fees – that cover visa costs, a health checkup and a work permit – are capped at 2,910 baht. “We work closely with our suppliers to educate them on the human rights issues that recruitment fees can lead to and offer solutions to mitigate the risks of working with third party labour recruiters,” said Thuy Nguyen, a manager for California-based Patagonia, which confirmed compensation had been paid.