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Partnering to Improve Conditions of Migrant Families

Plan’s partnership with Kesko has improved the lives of hundreds of migrant children and youth in Thailand.

The Thai seafood industry, the world’s third largest exporter, brings in approximately $7 billion every year. In order to keep profits high, labor trafficking is rampant throughout Thailand, luring more than 300,000 migrants – 20,000 estimated to be children under 15 – from Cambodia, Myanmar, and Laos with promises of well-paying jobs. These migrants are quick to discover, however, that they will not receive what was promised. Instead, they are forced to work in factories for 16 hours a day or live on unregistered boats far off shore for years at a time, with little to no pay. The Thai government attempted to crackdown on trafficking and was threatened with an EU boycott of Thai-produced seafood imports, but there has been little change.

In 2015, Plan International Finland partnered with Kesko, the second largest retail chain in Finland, to improve the rights of workers in Thailand’s fishing industry. Plan’s partnership with Kesko provides evidence that cross-sector collaboration can have significant impact on improving the lives of thousands and protecting their human rights. By demanding transparency in the supply chain and production process, human rights violations worldwide will diminish. “We have an obligation to take responsibility for the human rights in the purchasing chain of our products,” says Matti Kalervo, Kesko’s Vice President for Corporate Responsibility. Among other things, the partnership with Plan gives Kesko an understanding of the challenges of migrant workers in Thailand and provides Plan with influence in the supply chain, allowing both parties to make larger, more powerful impacts than they would on their own.

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