You may have heard of 3D jobs - dirty, dangerous and difficult - and migrant workers in Thailand are over-represented in these jobs. Many migrant workers remain undocumented, leaving them exposed to abuse by unscrupulous employers. But even registered migrant workers and Thais suffer shocking working conditions in industries including fishing, agriculture, construction and notably, the garment industry.
At the same time, migrant workers are essential to Thailand filling the engine room of its economy. NGOs and grassroots organisations have been working hard to improve the lives of migrant workers through advocacy, legal and livelihoods support. And one such grassroots organisation has a special insight - the employees are former workers of a multinational garment company supplying major international brands - and they were all sacked without compensation.
The Solidarity Factory
After losing their jobs, the workers banded together to create the Solidarity Group and went about establishing their "dream" garment factory. The Solidarity Factory aims to provide a living wage for members and reduce working hours to 8 hours per day - in other words - to provide a dignified life for its workers. The Solidarity Factory is now a place of refuge for sacked workers, the unemployed and victimised trade unionists and has turned into a learning space and help centre for Thai and migrant workers. It also provides an example to other workers who wish to set up cooperatives. The road has been a difficult one but the Solidarity Factory shows what can be achieved to improve working conditions and buck the trend of exploitation in the garment industry. Etheq is proud to partner with the Solidarity Factory.