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EU urged to demand tougher Thai labor safeguards before trade talks

The European Commission could not immediately be reached for comment on the Oct. 28-dated letter, whose signatories also included trade unions and companies such as Swiss food giant Nestle and British supermarket chain Tesco.

They said Thai labor laws fell short of global standards on freedom of association and collective bargaining, criticizing the nation’s record on fighting forced labor, discrimination against migrant workers and curbs on the freedom of association.

“Companies are concerned about sourcing from countries with weak labor laws and a history of severe labor rights abuses including forced labor – as this raises the risk of human rights violations in supply chains,” the letter said.

In 2019, the United States suspended duty-free treatment of certain Thai products because the country had not taken steps to “afford workers in Thailand internationally recognized worker rights.”

Rights groups that signed the letter said a series of measures protecting workers in Thailand should be demanded as a precondition for resuming negotiations.

“EU trade talks with Thailand should not resume until… Thailand lifts bans on migrant worker organizing and limitations on strikes and end judicial harassment of trade unions and labor rights defenders,” said Kimberly Rogovin, a coordinator for Global Labor Justice – International Labor Rights Forum, a workers’ rights organization.

“Human rights must be central to trade agreements to ensure that the benefits of global trade are broadly shared by workers as well,” she added. (Reporting by Nanchanok Wongsamuth //news.trust.org)

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