Tesco targeted by proceedings in UK for forced labor in Thailand

Supermarket giant Tesco is the target of proceedings in the United Kingdom on behalf of Burmese migrants in Thailand alleging forced labor for a former subcontractor to clothing manufacturers, AFP learned on Monday from the plaintiffs’ lawyers.

“Burmese migrants have been forced to work up to 99 hours a week at illegal wages and under forced labor conditions in a Thai factory,” said a statement from the firm Leigh Day, which represents them, released on Sunday evening.

In particular, the procedure aims to demand compensation from Tesco and its Thai subsidiary at the time, Ek-Chai, sold in 2020. They are accused of “unjustly enriching themselves at the expense of the 130 migrant workers and one child. , defended by the cabinet.

The proceedings also target the assurance and certification group of Intertek companies, which had inspected the factory in question.

If an amicable phase did not give satisfaction, it would proceed to the High Court, a British court, the lawyers warn.

The workers were employed at the VK Garments factory in Mae Sot (northwest) between 2017 and 2020 cutting, manufacturing or packaging clothes intended for sale in Thailand.

According to the elements filed in the proceedings, the workers were paid a maximum of 4 pounds (4.60 euros) a day, worked seven days a week at very high speeds and lived in small dormitories where they slept on the cement floor. .

The revelations “are incredibly serious and had we identified issues like this at the time they occurred we would have immediately terminated our relationship with this supplier,” Tesco responded in a statement sent to Britain on Monday. AFP.

Although Tesco was not involved in the day-to-day running of the factory, the group says it “continues to urge” its former supplier “to reimburse employees for any wages owed to them”. The latter has so far only been awarded severance pay by the Thai courts.

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