No holidays for the Burmese (2015)

Thailand is one of the world’s most popular travel destinations. The influential tourist industry creates work opportunities and thousands of people come here from Burma to work. But under what conditions?

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This report contains interviews with 18 Burmese hotel workers in Thailand. They work in several of the hotels that cater to travellers from Western Europe.

As their stories will show, the “tourist paradise" has a dark side that tourists rarely get to see. Most of the Burmese migrant workers end up being exploited, facing discrimination by their employers as well as being paid below minimum wages.

This report uncovers fundamental weaknesses of the investigated tour operators’ supply chain management in Thailand. According to the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, companies should have an ongoing process to identify and prevent violations of human rights. Even though tour operators are aware that there is a risk that migrant workers’ rights are not respected in Thailand, they fail to take measures to prevent abuses.

Out of the 18 Burmese hotel workers interviewed in this report, half of them stated that their salary is lower than the Thai minimum wage. Working hours can also be very long, in one case up to 17 hours per day without overtime compensation.

"Two thirds of the interviewees have never attended any occupational health and safety trainings, nor fire drills or Tsunami training. Fire drills are only for Thai staff… I don´t know how to use the fire extinguisher, says one of the hotel workers."

Topics addressed

  • Thailand – a country dependent on tourism
  • Burmese workers’ rights in Thailand
  • The tour operators’ sustainability work
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