Companies are joining forces with non-profit organizations and launching a multi-lingual mobile app with training on COVID-19 and workers’ rights to reach Thailand's migrant workers, a group often at risk of trafficking and forced labor. (Photo: IOM 2018/Visarut Sankham)
Press release 20/10/20: The coronavirus pandemic has hit the manufacturing industry hard in Thailand. Particularly vulnerable are the up to five million migrant workers in the country, a group often at risk of being exposed to trafficking and forced labor. In response, companies and organizations in the MOVE network, among them Axfoundation, have launched a mobile app and website with information about rights and training in four languages.
“The existence of trafficking and forced labor among migrants in Thailand is well documented. The coronavirus pandemic has worsened the situation,” says Viveka Risberg, Coordinator for MOVE and Program Director for Sustainable Production and Consumption at Swedish non-profit organization Axfoundation. “The mobile app not only provides users with knowledge about COVID-19 and their rights as workers, it also helps strengthen digital competences in a vulnerable group.”
Behind the initiative is the multi-stakeholder initiative MOVE whose aim is to empower migrant workers in global supply chains through easily accessible digital training, shared knowledge, and constructive dialogue. Axfoundation is one of the founders of MOVE together with the Nordic grocery actors Axfood and Unil, global technology company HP Inc., global appliance company Electrolux and the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration (IOM). Tech partners are Swedish edtech company Quizrr, who developed the mobile app and its educational content, and Canadian Ulula, who provided the associated survey tool.
Electrolux, one of the investors of the initiative, views the platform as complementary to traditional factory audits and supplier training.
“Thailand is an important market as well as a production and supply hub for Electrolux,” says Cecilia Nord, Director Responsible Sourcing at Electrolux. “As part of our sustainability approach, we have since long cooperated with our direct suppliers to secure decent and fair working conditions and conduct capacity building activities. During the pandemic, we have seen the need to broaden our outreach and try to support vulnerable people also outside our own supply chains. With MOVE and the new app, we have together created a powerful information platform to support many migrant workers with up-to-date information and useful knowledge.”
IOM is a key partner in the MOVE initiative and in parallel with the mobile app, IOM just launched a multilingual website for migrant workers: mitrthai.com. The website and app together form a digital platform with films and information to strengthen knowledge among migrant workers. Users can also provide information about their situation via a survey, thereby MOVE actors gain important knowledge about the challenges faced by migrant workers. According to IOM, the digital platform is an effective way of reaching workers with information in relation to safely migrating, working and living in Thailand. The multilingual platform reaches those in employment, those who are looking for work, and those who are in transit.
“One of the key barriers to protecting the rights of migrant workers is a lack of information resulting from language barriers. This has been exacerbated even further by the COVID-19 pandemic. The development of ‘MitrThai’ offers a concrete solution by providing a single platform that compiles reliable and timely information in languages understood by migrant workers in Thailand,” says IOM Thailand’s Chief of Mission, a.i., Maria Moita.