A man from Myanmar told a reporter from the Associated Press that he was sold by a human trafficking broker to a Thailand fishing boat for $616. The man originally thought that he was going to work on the boat for 6 months, yet ended up working for over a year. During the time, the Burmese man stated that he slept for 3 hours a night.
The seafood industry in Thailand employees 2 million people and is constantly facing a labor shortage. Many Thais do not want to work on the fishing boats where the wages are low, the job is dangerous, and many boats are at sea for months and even years. To meet this shortage, an estimated 200,000 migrants from Cambodia and Myanmar are working on the boats. A 2013 survey of 600 workers conducted by the United Nations found that almost none had signed a labor contract and about 40 percent had their wages cut without explanation.
Nearly 6 out of 10 migrant workers on Thai fishing boats reported seeing a co-worker killed by the captain, according to a 2009 UN report. The man who was sold by traffickers told the AP that after a sick man died on the boat the captain simply tossed the body overboard.
Source: Associated Press, “Thailand’s Rampant Trafficking May Carry Price,” ABC News, June 13, 2014.