CLAIMS QUARANTINED PHETCHABURI WORKERS LEFT HUNGRY IN THE DARK

Sealed inside a factory to contain a COVID-19 outbreak, hundreds of frustrated and angry migrant workers say they’ve been left in the dark by power outages without adequate food and no medical care.

The poor conditions that led more than 1,300 workers at the Cal-Comp Electronics factory in Phetchaburi province to protest, reported by some medias outlets as an escape attempt, included loss of electricity for 12 hours, which had not been addressed according to workers and an NGO at the site.

“We take care of each other. No officers here,” Tlay Nyo, one of the Burmese workers stuck at the site, said by phone in Thai. “There was no electricity for hours yesterday and we don’t know if it will happen again today.”

While media reports put it at 1,300, Tlay Nyo said there are at least 1,500 Burmese workers plus others who are Cambodian.

“At around 9am today, a worker told me they had not been given breakfast,” said Than Zaw Htike of the Migrant Workers Rights Network, who is currently at the site. 

The Cal-Comp Electronics factory was ordered shut from May 21 until June 4 after nearly 700 of its  3,300 workers tested positive for COVID-19.  A field hospital was set up at the factory with space converted into kitchens to provided meals for quarantined workers.

Phetchaburi provincial health chief, Petcharuek Tansawat, said the closure of the factory was a “voluntary decision” by the management, who promised to care for the employees quarantined inside.

Than Zaw Htike shared photos taken inside of the workers taking care of their own by checking each other’s blood pressure along with images of uncooked meat the workers were forced to eat last night because the electricity had been cut for hours. 

Some of the Burmese workers, who account for the majority, cited discrimination among the workforce as well – saying the Thai workers received more food of a higher quality.

On Thursday, officials said they were alerted at around 5pm about the factory’s power problem. It wasn’t restored until almost midnight.