USAID, IOM X and YouTube Stars Tell Young Thais: You Can Prevent Exploitation in Manufacturing

Tuesday, March 27, 2018
U.S. Ambassador Glyn Davies addresses the press launch of the IOM X video campaign, funded by USAID.
Richard Nyberg / USAID

BANGKOK, March 27, 2018 – Young Thais truly have the power to change the world. This was the message at the launch of the “Do you know who made it?” campaign today, which asks young Thais to take the lead in making smart purchasing decisions that reinforce the fair treatment of workers in the manufacturing industry.

IOM X is the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)’s campaign to prevent human trafficking and exploitation.

In partnership with some of Thailand’s top YouTube creators, the campaign will reach more than 13 million Thai YouTube users with stories that highlight both the good side and the bad side of the manufacturing industry.

From Bie the Ska’s drama depicting a father’s misery on the production line of a mobile phone factory, producing the very product his daughter is begging him for; to VRZO’s “Happy,” an ironic look at how clothes are marketed, versus how they are made; to BILLbilly01’s animated music video highlighting the fact that there are real people making the clothes that we wear, the “Do you know who made it?” campaign deep dives into the manufacturing industry.

Softpomz gets the inside scoop from kids on what’s fair and what’s not when it comes to work; and Picnicly interviews restaurant owners working to improve the lives of their staff and suppliers.

“This is a great opportunity for USAID to work with IOMX to get this message out to especially young people through a medium they understand – YouTube – about the importance of protecting the rights of those who make these products we wear and make this food that we eat,” said U.S. Ambassador to Thailand, Glyn Davies. “These YouTubers that we saw today are artists. They have millions of followers and we hope that through them, young people can get this message that they have to be conscious about how they consume and they have to be actors and players in the effort to end human slavery and human trafficking.”

There are approximately 16.6 million people in forced labour in Asia Pacific, across a variety of industries, including manufacturing. Annual illegal profits from forced labour in Asia, including manufacturing, are an estimated US$52 billion.

“Whenever we make a purchase, we risk supporting exploitation. But if we choose what we buy wisely, we can contribute to breaking the cycle of abuse that harms the people behind the products,” said IOM X Program Leader Tara Dermott.

Human trafficking victims in manufacturing jobs in Asia Pacific often live in substandard housing, are not paid their full salaries and have their documents confiscated to prevent them from leaving their jobs. They may be subjected to unpaid overtime, hazardous working conditions (such as working with toxic chemicals and dangerous machinery) and are at risk of injuries resulting from repetitive motions. Not having the right protective clothing and gear can lead to serious health issues such as cancer, respiratory illnesses, dermatological problems, liver damage, hearing problems and neurological problems.

Debt bondage – the practice of forcing someone to pay off a loan by working – is a common practice used in the manufacturing industry to keep victims bound to their workplace. For example, a migrant working in the electronics manufacturing industry in Southeast Asia pays an average of $500-1,200 in recruitment fees; often these fees are then deducted from the worker’s salary. 

See photos of the campaign launch here:

Last updated: March 27, 2018

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