Saturday, March 9, 2013

Saturday, March 09, 2013
22
-PINA COLADA SALES PLUMMET IN HELSINKI!-


Flying Sporran’s Weekend Diary-

Actually I had never heard of Finnwatch before but I have always advocated an organisation which could watch Finns. But it now seems this organization, together with the Finns, or some of them up there in the frozen tundra, who have a liking for pineapple juice, pineapple chunks etc, has been causing an Asean storm.

Finnwatch is the ‘Watchdog’ which published a report stating that Natural Fruit, of Pranburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, was, well, exploiting its Burmese workers.

The company reacted in true local style by picking on one of the researchers of the report who lived in Thailand, Brit Andy Hall, 33, of Spalding, Lincolnshire ( I like saying Spalding – its reminds me of tennis racquets and cricket bats) and issued summonses against him for US$10 million damages, and criminal charges which could, I guess, have him in jail for five years.

Sledgehammer and nut. Obviously in the Thai courts Natural Fruits cannot lose. The whole report is based on the testimony of Burmese labourers who cannot and will not give evidence for obvious reasons. The company is linked to the Democratic Party.

But of course Andy Hall is not now in Thailand, wisely. He is in Burma. Now there are many international flights bypassing Thailand – the old gateway to Rangoon – so why should he give a damn.

So here we have an old fashioned feudal scenario being played out for real – but the problem is that the more that this story gets mentioned – the more real damage is being done to the company.

Not sure I am familiar with these people either but the NGO world is buzzing, plus their
English is better than some stuff I have received from the Ministry of Justice.

Now let’s get this straight. Western companies have been using cheap Asian labour for years, nay centuries. Even in the last twenty years scores of major brand label companies  have been exposed for similar exploitation.(It's something which, I guess, will come back to bite them in the butt) I have done these reports myself.  

The uniforms have shrunk since
Boy can I remember when Reebok Vice Presidents hired the entire staff of a go-go bar in Patpong for a night out and paid each more than their factory girls earned in a month!

The difference is that in the western world the companies have had to take criticism on the chin and then modify their practices or at least pretend to.

Not in Thailand though.

Even if Natural Fruits were to win their cases – they have already lost.

Andy Hall, a First Class Honours Law Degree student from London University who has not repaid his student loan yet, would have to be proved dishonest in the court of world opinion -  something that’s unlikely to happen.

In fact the case being brought by Natural Fruits is only drawing attention to itself.  Pineapple? I can live without it.  I like grapefruit and/or  Florida/Spanish orange juice for breakfast. I can have my gammon steak with something else.

At least I can get Tequila out of a cactus; Cointreau, Curacao, Grand Marnier and Campari out of an orange; cider or scrumpy out of an apple; wine, Benedictine, Brandy, Port, out of a grape; Cassis out of blackcurrants; Maraschino out of cherries, and quite frankly I can give Pina Coladas a miss.  Have not drunk those since I was in my 20's and usually with some bimbette. It was the standard lube for SUN Page 3 girls.

But of course the Finns can drink anything! So I guess the report hurt.

Finally a hint for Natural Fruit

This should work. Fire your PR team and add the cash and that saved from legal fees to the Myanmar staff fund and then issue this statement:

"A report by the organisation Finnwatch, (based in a small country much of which is in the Arctic Circle with an airline discounting tickets to Thailand and where women can drink Scotsmen under the table, and where people ate Santa's reindeer long before Findus introduced them to horse meat*)  critical of work practices at our factory in Prachuap Khiri Kan, Thailand, has been brought to our attention. While we do not agree with the findings of the report we have reviewed all procedures. We are now completely satisfied that that we are acting in compliance with both Thai and international standards and wish to reassure our clients that they will continue to receive the highest quality products from a company which is dedicated to the high standards of safety, health, and employment conditions (blah- blah)."

These sort of statements have helped multi nationals for years.

* In italics is what you joke about with journalists on the phone.

22 comments:

  1. nIce article! No spelling mistakes this time either.

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  2. I wonder about major global brands exploiting labor in Asia. Of course it has existed and still exists through various corporate stakeholders, however collateral damage to brands does hit the bottom-line. We have progressed. As for the Reebook VPs, their "promotions" may have been spontaneous but this is the kind of exposure they don't want to go viral.

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  3. AS I have commented on a Thai-based website, the NatFruit company may be the worst abusers of labor rights in Thailand. But the non-corroborated statements of 12 migrant employees out of a total migrant workforce of 700 (according to Finnwatch PR release) hardly seems sufficient as proof under Section 330 of Thailand's Penal Code on defamation.

    Maybe Mr. Hall and his associates could have made a better case before releasing his findings ie video tape of the facilities with a hidden camera?

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  4. As I would have commented on another website had I bothered, had I independently spoken to 12 Burmese immigrants who all said the same thing then I would be pretty sure they represented the views of the majority in this case.

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    Replies
    1. At this point it really only matters how the Thai court would view the 'proof' under Section 330 of the Thai Penal Code i.e. it would not be defamation if the allegations could be proven. And you have only Mr. Hall's word that the information was taken independently and just how were these 12 selected.

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    2. In a US court of law, any evidence as provided to Mr. Hall through the non-corroborated statements by the unidentified 12 Burmese immigrants would almost certainly be rejected as hearsay.

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  5. For fear of labouring a point Jem. You comments are almost irrelevant and certain do not require letting me know under which section of the Thai legal code he is prosecuted under.
    . The author of the report on Natural Fruit is Finnwatch not Andy Hall
    . Finnwatch are not being sued.
    . Most of these organisations have very methodical ways in which they take info. Finnwatch is no exception.
    . Mr. Hall is being sued for repeating those allegations within Thailand at the FCCT.
    . Mr. Hall is currently not subject to Thai law.
    . I have already stated that as these Burmese will almost certainly not be giving evidence in court the results would be foregone conclusion if the cases were to go ahead.
    . That is why we have organisations like Finnwatch, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Release etc. Do you understand all this?

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  6. I do not think any of the groups that you have mentioned would go forward with the accusations with such cursory uncorroborated information.

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  7. From the AFP:The legal action follows a recent report Hall prepared for Finnish rights watchdog Finnwatch which accused Natural Fruit of using forced and child labour, involvement in human trafficking, unlawfully low wages and long hours.

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  8. . I do not think you are in a position to say what exactly Finnwatch had or did on the ground.
    . Quoted wire service reports which at best are only a summary of what happened is dangerous in this context.
    . The report had five authors, plus of course overseers.

    Please I am having a lazy Sunday afternoon. Would you like to resume on Thaivisa.com

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  9. Most of what I originally learned of this case was based upon prachatai.com and Finnwatch's own Press release where they deigned to disclose just how many interviewees there were.

    I thought the news never sleeps.

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    Replies
    1. Yes and having reported on similar situations in this region I tend to believe Finnwatch's research. As I said. Its world opinion that counts - not Pathum Thani court

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    2. I have looked at the ALDI statement (English version) on corporate responsibility and Supplier Policy. If the Finnwatch report is accurate, then the supplier company in question is in total violation of those policies. This also presumes that the ALDI company is totally unaware heretofore about conditions at a major supplier even though I would assume personnel from EU have been on site for quality control purposes.

      So let's see how word opinion kicks in. You may be completely right.

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  10. Would you like to resume on Thaivisa.com

    I did: http://www.thaivisa.com/forum/topic/624318-british-activist-fighting-to-avoid-thai-jail-term/page-6#entry6190668

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    Replies
    1. I thought you could resume by yourself Jem

      Delete
  11. metisdead, on 10 Mar 2013 - 14:07, said:
    A post containing a link to Andrew Drummond's site has been removed. Please understand Thai Visa is not employed as a tool to obtain information for Andrew Drummond nor do we use material from his web site.

    The only 'tool' about is this mod himself.

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    Replies
    1. Ah some posts say so much about the author

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    2. Sam, please relay this;

      Hello Met is Dead,
      Remember me? You ban me a lot for my opinion, and forbid discussion of it so let me ask you now, please on your reply-
      As a tool? Since when does AD collect censored misinformation?
      How do you justify the continued censorship on subjects that are in public domain, and how do you reply that the site censors posts to bolster its business interests?

      Delete
  12. From above: "You comments are almost irrelevant and certain do not require letting me know under which section of the Thai legal code he is prosecuted under."

    I only mentioned Section 330 of the Thai Penal Code which describes the defense one can offer when charged under preceding Sections 326 -328. One is not prosecuted under Section 330.

    ReplyDelete