07 Nov 2014
Andy Hall, a labour-rights activist has been exonerated from facing an eight year prison sentence and US$13 million fine for reporting alleged labour abuses by Thai pineapple wholesaler giant, Natural Fruit Company. Amongst a slew of misconduct, he reported the wholesaler was withholding passports and conducting violence against workers.
Human rights groups are calling it a “complicit cover-up” by the Thai government – a means to take the issue away from actually improving working conditions. NGOs, industry heads and hundreds of thousands of people are petitioning for Natural Fruit Company to drop the charges against Andy Hall.
Hall has been working in Thailand and Burma for the past 10 years, advocating migrant workers’ rights in both nations, advising Burma on migration issues and policies, and aiding in developing passport systems for migrant workers. However, his high-profile work was met with hostility, mostly in Thailand. Hall claims the Thai government was never committed to the serious problem of trafficking or migration, where up to half a million people are thought to be living in slavery in Thailand. Furthermore, Hall has received two separate threatening calls: one from a relative of Natural Fruit’s owner verbally attacking him, and another from a Thai deputy minister personally threatening to put Hall’s life in danger.
Regardless of the threats, Hall is unapologetic about his actions, stating “my work is not negative, it’s not bad, it’s not vicious – it’s intended to make things better. If they’re not willing to drop the cases, I am certain they, the pineapple industry, the Thai export industry and the Thai economy will suffer more.”
View the original article here.