“There will be no way for us to be able to solve every single problem of migrant workers here in Thailand.
"The only way we can do it, we need to have them to speak up about the problem. We need to have them form their own organization, representing themselves.”
Listen to Sawit's Story
Excerpt Featured on Radio Labour
About Sawit Kaewwan
Sawit Kaewwan, the secretary general of the State Enterprises Workers’ Relations Confederation (SERC) in Thailand, has mobilized the Thai trade union movement to support migrant workers, especially those at risk for human trafficking. Sawit’s vision has been to build an inclusive labor movement using strategies to empower migrant workers. He provides a clear view into the challenges and risks that come with movement building.
The unions have offered repeatedly to collaborate with industry and government. Instead, the government is pursuing criminal charges against Sawit and 12 of his colleagues for organizing a national railway safety campaign they launched back in 2009. The charges appear politically motivated because they were filed in 2019 just before the statute of limitations expired. Thailand’s National Human Rights Commission has condemned the actions against the trade unionists.
Learn more about Sawit’s work:
Judy Gearhart’s Essay on Thompson Reuters
Time for a Sea Change: Why union rights for migrant workers are needed to prevent forced labor in the Thai seafood industry (International Labor Rights Forum)
Fighting for Thailand's migrant workers (Radio Labour)
About The Labor Link Podcast
The Labor Link Podcast supports workers' rights in global supply chains by sharing personal stories and perspectives of the brave individuals organizing the workers who make our stuff. The Labor Link Podcast is hosted by Judy Gearhart of American University’s Accountability Research Center and produced by Empathy Media Lab of the Labor Radio Podcast Network.
Contact Judy Gearhart for media inquiries at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Host of
The Labor Link Podcast
Accountability Research Center
Judy Gearhart is a senior researcher at the Accountability Research Center and an adjunct professor at Columbia University. Previously she served as the executive director at the International Labor Rights Forum and programs director at Social Accountability International. She also worked in Mexico and Honduras on trade, labor rights, and democratic participation.
About the Accountability Research Center
The Accountability Research Center (ARC) is based in American University’s School of International Service. ARC bridges research and frontline perspectives to learn from ideas, institutions, and actors that advance strategies to improve public accountability.
Through extensive dialogue with partners and collaborators, ARC co-designs exploratory research that is relevant for their strategies and can contribute to international thinking about how change happens.