The Thai Noncitizen Migrant Worker: Strategies for Labor & Human Rights Claims

The Thai Noncitizen Migrant Worker: Strategies for Labor & Human Rights Claims

Department of Sociology,Siena College, Albany, New York, USA


Thai migrant workers in many countries experience a high degree of labor exploitation and human rights abuse that have also been characterized as human trafficking.  While much of the focus of Thailand's reduction to a Tier 3 level in its anti-trafficking efforts has been on Thailand as a destination of trafficking of non-national migrant workers, this project examines Thailand as an origin of labor trafficking, in which, the focus is on Thai transnational migrant labor.  This study uses qualitative studies in ethnography among Thai migrant workers and interviews with various stakeholders.

The processes of migrant labor advocacy and state control could better mitigate human trafficking if anti-labor trafficking and anti-slavery practices were more clearly defined as human/labor rights focused and consistently implemented.  The research questions pursued include: What are the existing avenues and strategies for Thai transnational migrant workers to pursue labor rights and justice claims for exploitation, labor trafficking, and human rights violations?  The project uses a combination of ethnography among migrant workers and interviews of Thai migrant workers, their families, government agencies in Thailand as well as receiving countries, and interviews with NGOs and labor organizations.

The presentation will combine preliminary findings based on cases in the United States with a project proposal for expanding case studies in Korea and Taiwan.  This project will support improved implementation via a study of  three cases using three foci:

  1. the strategies used by transnational migrant/immigrant labor advocacy groups (NGOs and labor unions);
  2. the responses of government agencies in cases of labor trafficking; and
  3. how Thai workers themselves negotiate their own "other" racial and national identities in contrast against receiving countries' national citizenship identities as well as in relation to the process of self-identifying as victims of trafficking in order to access redress and justice.

Moderator: Dr. Theerathorn Yoongthong

July 30, 2014 at room 109 Sabua, 1st Floor