Statement from the Building and Wood Workers International
Published in BWI Connect
4 February 2011
The Building and Wood Workers International is outraged to hear of the treatment of Charlie Tiyu, a Burmese migrant worker working in Thailand’s construction industry. Charlie’s hip was broken and his intestine burst from his stomach in a workplace accident on January 9 at Charoen Pokphand’s food processing plant in Pathum Thani’s Lat Lum Kaeo district. He was subsequently sent for treatment at the Pathum Thani Provincial Hospital where both the employer and contractor refused to cover his medical expenses. Due to his severe injuries Charlie was unable to leave the hospital to renew his work permit and was provided no assistance by his employer, his permit has since expired and all his identification documents have been lost. Charlie, despite not having any documentation on him when he was taken to hospital, said he had been a registered migrant since January 2010.
Due to a lack of documentation, the hospital reported Charlie’s case to the police, following which he was then taken into custody awaiting deportation. However, given the seriousness of his injuries he was transferred to the Police General Hospital in Bangkok where he was detained in a cell and chained to his bed.
The BWI is concerned about the manner in which Charlie has been treated by both his employer and the authorities in Thailand. The employer has failed in their duty to provide a safe and healthy working condition and more importantly, to ensure that an injured worker is provided with all necessary assistance. The actions of the employer have not only endangered the life of Charlie, but also resulted in Charlie becoming an irregular worker at risk of deportation. The police and immigration officials have failed in their duty to uphold Thai and international laws relating to migrant workers. By chaining Charlie to a bed, while locked in a cell, when he is in need of comprehensive medical care, is humiliating and akin to torture. The actions of the employer and the authorities are deplored by the BWI.
The BWI calls on the employer to honour their obligation by providing financial support for Charlie’s medical costs, assisting him in his dealings with immigration and labour ministry officials and producing necessary employment documents.
The BWI calls on the Thai authorities to stop their inhumane treatment of a seriously injured worker and ensure that he is provided with appropriate medical care and assistance to as they would to a citizen of Thailand.
Migrant workers throughout the world are often deprived of sufficient protection from exploitation and lack adequate assistance when they are in danger. Migrant workers play an important role in the global economy; however, they are often neglected and not provided necessary rights in both countries of origin and destination. The BWI is dedicated to protecting the rights of migrant workers and ensuing that rights are protected.