Thai / English


18 Mar 13

A BRITISH human rights ­activist could be jailed after exposing alleged abuses of workers at a factory that supplied supermarket Aldi with fruit juice.

Andy Hall, 33, also faces a multi-million pound law suit after his ­report on the Natural Fruit ­Company plant in Thailand.

The dossier for human rights group Finnwatch details how the factory in Prachuap Khiri Khan province ­employed up to 200 illegal workers, some aged just 14, from neighbouring ­Myanmar, formerly known as Burma.

It claims some staff were assaulted by their bosses and had their passports seized, while others collapsed at work through exhaustion.

Hall faces a £6.6million civil action and charges under Thailand’s Computer Crime Act.

He also faces a possible seven years in jail. The civil and criminal cases will be heard in a court in Thailand’s capital Bangkok next month.

But defiant Hall, an expert on human rights abuses against migrant workers in Thailand, stands by his findings.

The migrant consultant for the EU-funded International Management Group, said: “My research was ­completely accurate. I only revealed the truth about this bad factory.”

Hall’s research, based on interviews with factory staff last November, also says workers are paid just 55p an hour.

The Natural Fruit Company has been producing pineapple juice concentrate for drinks giant Refresco, which ­distributes fruit juice to a host of retail outlets across Europe, including Aldi.

Last year Hall arranged for Myanmar opposition leader and Nobel prize ­winner Aung San Suu Kyi, 67, to visit Thailand to speak to some of her ­downtrodden countrymen.

Last night, the Natural Fruit ­Company declined to comment on the allegations.

Refresco, which has a ­production plant in ­Durham, is understood to have ­suspended its business ­dealings with Natural Fruit. They also refused to make any statement.

An Aldi spokesman said: “Refresco confirmed that 3% of the pineapple juice it supplied in the UK during 2012 was from the Natural Fruit Company but that it no longer sources any products from the ­company.

“Aldi UK sources some juice products from Refresco but no products ­currently stocked contain ingredients sourced from Natural Fruit Company.

“We are committed to respecting the human rights and fair labour practices of all those involved in our supply chain and require all suppliers to work to ethical standards, based on United Nations and International Labour ­Organisation conventions.