Category Archives: MMN Media Coverage

Thais mandate migrant worker health checks

On the road to legal employment in Thailand, Cambodian migrant workers are being made to undergo check-ups that have them cough, strip and give blood and urine samples to prove they are physically and mentally sound enough to work in the country.

Obtaining a workers’ permit, Thailand’s junta has announced, is contingent upon passing compulsory, 500-baht ($15) health screenings and buying 1,600-baht insurance.

The health stipulations aren’t new – in fact, the rates are reduced – but the efforts to strictly enforce them have taken on a novel fervour since the military government announced its social reforms to stymie rampant trafficking and abuse of foreign labourers.

Yesterday, Thailand’s 22 newly launched “one-stop service centres” began registering fleets of foreign workers, the acceptance of each applicant incumbent on background checks, medical screenings and permit requests, each step processed in the same paperwork- and labourer-swamped office.

According to the World Health Organisation, the Thai Ministry of Health has ordered workers seeking yearlong permits to be screened for amphetamine abuse and major illnesses, including syphilis, leprosy, filariasis, and, through a chest X-ray, tuberculosis. Female migrants are also given a pregnancy test, and if found to be pregnant, the policy stipulates that they be sent home. Since there is no translation, workers’ consent to the whole barrage can only be assumed, said Omsin Boonlert, or Plaii, a Chang Mai-based research officer for the Mekong Migration Network.

“It’s not voluntary, but the workers aren’t told what will happen once they cross the border or what the doctors will do,” Plaii said. “It’s a violation of the workers’ rights to bypass properly informed consent.”

But no one seems to know what all the workers could be consenting to. Upon crossing the border, a labourer’s trek back to Thailand begins with an 80-baht temporary identification card doled out at newly created coordinating centres. Employers then retrieve the freshly arrived workers from the checkpoint, and within 60 days must take them to a one-stop centre to request a longer-term permit, where the requisite tests are undertaken and fees levied.

After the health check, migrants are filtered into one of three categories: pass with no health issue; pass with controllable illness; or fail due to being unfit for work, infected with a contagious disease, demonstrating signs of alcoholism or amphetamine addiction, or affected by a mental disorder.

The policy stipulates that sick workers “will be referred to receive treatment before further coordination with other relevant authorities for deportation”, according to Aree Moungsookjareou at the WHO.

But in reality, treatment isn’t always so duly meted out.

“[The failed workers] aren’t issued a permit and will not be allowed back to where they were living in Thailand. They are immediately deported,” said Plaii. “There’s no consultation, no follow-up scheduled and no treatment arranged. They just check, and charge.”

The whole system also has little interest in patient privacy: The prodded and pricked workers have no choice over male or female doctor, and a nurse hands out the results in a Thai printout that is passed around to other government agents and indiscriminately shared with employers, who don’t always take the news lightly.

“Sometimes, employers will terminate a contract based on medical results,” Dr Nang Sarm Phong of World Vision International Thailand said. “It’s not legal … but it still happens.”

In addition to the lack of informed consent, migration and public health monitors worry that the cost of the compulsory health check and health insurance is still prohibitive for recently crossed and often penniless migrants, and may prove a continued barrier to the new legalisation incentives. The screening, insurance and permit alone run a total 3,000 baht, or more than one month’s wages for some workers.

“Taken in isolation, it’s not so expensive, but it’s still an additional cost … the passport, the visa, the transportation, the broker fee, the identification card, the health insurance … those are all expenses 100 per cent borne by the employee, not the employer,” Bangkok-based migrant expert Andy Hall said.

But if workers don’t have insurance or undergo health checks, the state ends up footing the costly burden for migrants’ health. In 2012, Thailand’s Public Health Ministry estimated it shouldered 300 million baht worth of unpaid migrant worker hospital fees.

“Everyone, including the migrant workers who helps fuel the country’s economic growth, should have health coverage. It’s just a question of who pays for it,” said Hall.

And for now at least, Thailand is continuing to direct the bill to its foreign workers.

By: Laignee Barron (additional reporting by Kim Sarom), The Phnom Penh Post

Mekong nations urged to protect migrant workers, The Nation

The Mekong Migration Network yesterday ended a three-day symposium by urging countries in the Mekong basin to provide migrant workers with sufficient legal protections and to improve their working and living conditions.

The network brought together 72 representatives of governments, academic institutions, INGOs, NGOs and migrant groups from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and Yunnan province of China, to share perspectives on how migrants and host communities can live together.

“Although migration is not a new phenomenon in the Mekong region, migrant communities and host communities have lived side by side but not together for many decades,” the group said in a statement issued after the symposium.

“Every day, equality and rights are being tied to immigration documents and denied to those who do not have these documents. All human beings are entitled to human rights; they cannot be denied on the basis of immigration status.”

A migrant worker at the meeting said the vast majority of migrants do not receive the legal minimum wage and suffer humiliation due to negative stereotyping of migrants.

Current living and working conditions – particularly a lack of enforcement of labour protections; dangerous working conditions; and exclusion from social services – are creating barriers between migrants and host communities.

The symposium yesterday recommended the governments in the six riparian states of the Mekong set up a regional committee to oversee the working and living conditions of migrants and to ensure that all workers in all sectors are protected under national and international labour standards.

The governments should enforce employer compliance with labour protection laws and employment contracts, and sanction employers who persistently disregard or abuse the laws, it said.

The symposium suggested Asean support its own Standard Education Qualifications to raise awareness about portable educational qualifications and to develop recommendations for mutual recognition of qualifications.

By The Nation
Published on 1 March 2013

Invitation to the MMN Press Conference “Migrants from the Mekong Neighbourhood Contemplate Living Together”



“Migrants from the Mekong Neighbourhood Contemplate Living Together”

At the press conference on February 28th, The MEKONG MIGRATION NETWORK (MMN) will present recommendations agreed upon at the “Mekong Symposium on Migration: Migrants from the Mekong Neighbourhood Living Together” (Feb 26th – 28th).

The Symposium is a venue where policy makers, migrants’ rights advocates, migrant representatives, representatives of inter-governmental organisations, and academia can share perspectives and have dialogue on what it means for nationals and migrants to live together in social harmony. Participants at the symposium include representative from Workers Solidarity Association, Mr Jai Sak (migrant worker), H.E. Ms. Chou Bun Eng, Secretary of State, Ministry of Interior, Royal government of Cambodia and H.E. U Myint Thein, Deputy Minister for Labour of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar.

Date & Time: 28th February 2013 (Thursday ), 16.00 – 17.30

Venue: Ibis Riverside Hotel, 27, Soi Charoe Nakhon 17 ,Bangkok


MC: Ms Jackie Pollock, Executive Director, MAP Foundation

4:00 Welcome and Introduction

4:10 H.E. U Myint Thein, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Labour, Government of Republic of the Union of Myanmar: Myanmar’s Perspectives on Living Together and Roles of Countries of Origin in Enabling Migrant Workers to Access Labour Protection and Social Services

4:25 Mr.Anusorn Kraiwatnussorn (Vice Minister of Labour ), Ministry of Labour, Royal Government of Thailand: Perspective from the Country of Destination ( TBC)

4:40 Mr. Jai Sak: Perspective from Migrant Workers

4:55 Recommendations: Ms. Reiko Harima and Mr. Sokchar Mom, MMN

5:10 Question and Answer session

5:30 Cocktail reception

[* The session will be conducted both in English and Thai ]

Please join us for an exciting afternoon with a cocktail reception and the sparkling conversation on living together-Aspire to Effective Responses to Enable Integration and Social Cohesion.

For further information and media interview please contact:

Ms. Jackie Pollock, MMN, 0850395216
Ms. Pranom Somwong, MMN, ph: 0831887600

Reserve your Press Space now, contact:-

Ms. Omsin Boonlert, MMN, / ph: 0869238313

PDF version [English]

ขอเชิญท่านเข้าร่วมงานแถลงข่าว ตามด้วยงานรับรองเครื่องดื่มแบบค็อกเทลริมแม่นํ้าเจ้าพระยา
“แรงงานจากประเทศเพื่อนบ้านในลุ่มนํ้าโขง ความมุ่งมั่นที่จะอยู่ร่วมกัน”
ในงานแถลงข่าว ที่จะจัดขึ้นวันที่ 28 กุมภาพันธ์นี้

เครือข่ายการย้ายถิ่นในอนุภูมิภาคลุ่มน้ำโขง จะนำเสนอข้อเสนอที่มาจากการประชุมวิชาการ จัดโดยเครือข่ายการย้ายถิ่นในอนุภูมิภาคลุ่มน้ำโขงกับการย้ายถิ่น “การอยู่ร่วมกันกับแรงงานจากประเทศเพื่อนบ้าน” (26-28 กุมภาพันธ์) การจัดการประชุมวิชาการเพื่อเป็นพื้นที่ให้นักวางแผนนโยบาย ผู้ที่ทำงานรณรงค์เพื่อสิทธิแรงงานข้ามชาติ ตัวแทนของแรงงานข้ามชาติ ตัวแทนขององค์กรระหว่างรัฐบาล และนักวิชาการได้มีการแลกเปลี่ยนมุมมองและสานสนทนาในเรื่อง พลเมืองและแรงงานข้ามชาติจะอยู่ร่วมกันได้อย่างไร ผู้เข้าร่วมในการประชุมวิชาการ มาจากตัวแทนที่หลากหลาย อาทิเช่น คุณพรศักดิ์ แรงงานข้ามชาติ ตัวแทนจากสมาคมแรงงานสามัคคี คุณ ชอ บุญ เอ็ง รัฐมนตรีช่วยว่าการกระทรวงมหาดไทย ราชอาณาจักรกัมพูชา คุณ เมี๋ยน เทียน รองอธิบดีกระทรวงแรงงาน สาธารณรัฐแห่งสหภาพเมียนมาร์

วันที่ 28 กุมภาพันธ์ (วันพฤหัสบดี)

เวลา 16.00- 17.30 น

สถานที่โรงแรม ไอบิส กรุงเทพ ริเวอร์ไซด์ ถนนเจริญนคร ซอย 17 กำหนดการ

ผู้ดำเนินรายการ คุณ แจ๊คกี้ พอลล๊อก ผู้อำนวยการมูลนิธิเพื่อสุขภาพ ฯ (MAP )

4:00 เปิดการแถลงข่าวและแนะนำ

4:10 มุมมองในการอยู่ร่วมกัน จากประเทศต้นทางในการเอื้อให้แรงงานข้ามชาติเข้าถึงการคุ้มครองด้านสิทธิแรงงานและการบริการสังคม โดย คุณ เมี๋ยน เทียน รองอธิบดีกระทรวงแรงงาน สาธารณรัฐแห่งสหภาพเมียนมาร์

4:25 มุมมองและแนวคิดจากประเทศปลายทาง โดย คุณ อนุสรณ์ ไกรวัตนุสสรณ์ ผู้ช่วยรัฐมนตรีประจำกระทรวงแรงงานไทย (รอการยืนยัน )

4:40 แนวคิดและมุมมองจากแรงงานข้ามชาติ โดย คุณ พรศักดิ์ ตัวแทนแรงงานกลุ่มสามัคคี

4:55 ข้อเสนอจากที่ประชุมวิชาการ โดยคุณ เรโก๊ะ ฮาริมาและคุณ ช็อคชา หม่อม จากMMN

5:10 เปิดการซักถามและอภิปรายจากสื่อมวลชน

5:30 งานรับรองเครื่องดื่มแบบค็อกเทลริมแม่น้ำเจ้าพระยา

การแถลงข่าวจะใช้ทั้งภาษาไทยและอังกฤษ โดยผู้จัดจะจัดหาล่ามแปลภาษาให้ผู้เข้าร่วมงานทั้งสองภาษา

เครือข่ายฯขอเชิญสื่อมวลชนร่วมงานแถลงข่าวที่น่าตื่นเต้น ตามด้วยงานรับรองแบบเครื่องดื่มแบบค็อกเทลและการสนทนาเป็นไปอย่างสนุกสนานออกรสชาติในประเด็นการอยู่ร่วมกัน การแสวงหาแนวทางบูรณการที่มีประสิทธิภาพที่เอื้อให้เกิดความอาทรและสมานฉันท์ในสังคม

ท่านสมารถติดต่อผู้จัดเพื่อการสัมภาษณ์เพิ่มเติมได้ที่ :-

คุณ แจ๊คกี้ พอลล๊อก (MMN) โทร: 0850395216

คุณ ปรานม สมวงศ์ (MMN) / โทร : 0831887600

ท่านสามารถจองที่นั่งได้ที่ :-

คุณ ออมสิน บุญเลิศ (MMN) / โทร : 0869238313

PDF version [Thai]

Asean urged to exchange health records of all migrant workers

Asean urged to exchange health records of all migrant workers
Health advocates have urged Asean governments to take better care of migrant workers, including those with HIV/Aids, to prevent diseases from spreading.

The warning follows concerns about health conditions for the workers, most of whom do not have access to health services or are reluctant to seek them out.

Many are illegal workers and they encounter problems communicating with health officials, a recent workshop on migrant labourers’ reproductive health in Phnom Penh was told.

Sunee Talawat, a Thai activist who monitors workers living with HIV/Aids in Southeast Asia, said many Aids-infected migrant workers stop taking their anti-viral drugs after they run out.

Inconsistent treatment results in increased drug resistance, requiring stronger and more expensive drugs.

Ms Sunee said there should be inter-government help to ensure treatment records of workers in their native country can be referenced.

This would ensure that anti-viral drug treatment can continue when they migrate to another country.

She said the exchange of information among members of Asean is crucial as the grouping moves close to the free mobility of workers in 2015.

It should start with professionals in such areas as medicine, nursing and engineering.

Ms Sunee said better health policies would help contain the spread of cross-border diseases.

Migrant workers who illegally enter another country tend to face more health risks because they do not dare to identify themselves and seek mainstream health treatment when they fall ill for fear of being sent home, said Rachael McGuin, of the Mekong Migration Network.

By The Bangkok Post
Published on 7 October 2012

Press Release: Restricted Rights: Migrant Workers in Thailand, Cambodia, and Malaysia

17 May 2012
Press Release

Restricted Rights.jpg

Migrant Workers in Thailand, Cambodia and Malaysia

Today sees the launch of the report Restricted Rights: Migrant Workers in Thailand, Cambodia, and Malaysia. The report presents the findings from a series of in-depth interviews with migrant women employed in the garment and electronic industry supply chains in three ASEAN countries. Commissioned by the War on Want, a UK based charity organisation, the research was carried out by the Asian Migrant Centre, in collaboration with the MAP Foundation, Legal Support for Children and Women (LSCW), Workers’ Hub for Change (WH4C), Burma Campaign – Malaysia and the Mekong Migration Network (MMN).

The research reveals a common tale of precarious lives lived out in the face of state oppression and exploitation by negligent companies and greedy employers. It uncovers how Thailand, Cambodia and Malaysia have reaped huge economic benefits off the back of migrant labour. Yet the same countries continue to refuse migrant workers the rights and security that are their due.

In Cambodia, almost 90% of garment factory workers are young women who have migrated from rural areas in search of work. Migrants from neighboring countries provide an essential workforce for the thriving export industries of Thailand and Malaysia. Despite their contributions migrant workers continue to endure harsh working conditions and extremely low wages.

Sokchar Mom of the LSCW, Cambodia, points out that:

“The minimum wage in Cambodia cannot be considered a living wage. It is very difficult for garment factory workers to earn enough money even to eat properly. Can you imagine, one has to work for nearly 6 hours to afford a simple 1 litre bottle of cooking oil? To put this in perspective, a worker on the minimum wage in the UK only has to work for 18 minutes to buy the same.”

Also included in this study are interviews with grassroots organizations who have been working tirelessly to facilitate migrants’ access to justice and promote their rights in the workplace and wider society.

Jackie Pollock, who works with one of these organizations in Thailand, shares the view that:

“Consumers in Europe may find it hard to imagine the kind of living and working conditions that the workers producing their clothes must endure. We hope this report will help raise awareness among consumers and that they will support our advocacy for improved labour protection for workers in Asia”.

Pranom Somwong from the WH4C added that:

“ASEAN is talking about economic integration by 2015 and has declared that it aims to realise a ‘region of equitable economic development’ which it says will be characterized by narrowing developing gaps and providing better access to opportunities for human development. However, it is apparent that violations of labour rights are routine practice across the three countries studied in this research. It is high time that ASEAN member states improved the rights and benefits of workers in the region”.

The 28 page report concludes with a series of recommendations from War on Want addressed to stakeholders in the UK.

Reiko Harima from AMC explained:

“While the recommendations arising from this research focused on UK stakeholders, companies sourcing their products from Thailand, Cambodia and Malaysia include other European countries, the USA, and many East Asian countries such as Japan, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. Labour intensive industries especially garment manufacturing are now talking about shifting their production bases to “new frontiers” such as Burma. We urge companies to be responsible employers by ensuring that workers are able to exercise their rights, receive equitable working conditions and are treated with dignity.

The report is available from the MMN website:; and

the War on Want website:

For further information, please contact:

*Reiko Harima, AMC, Hong Kong: / +852 93692244
*Jackie Pollock, MAP Foundation, Thailand: /+668-60904118
*Sokchar Mom, LSCW, Cambodia: +855 12943767
*Pranom Somwong, WH4C, Malaysia: +60 192371300

Download the press release in PDF version here.

The Press Release and/or the Report was covered by the following news:



Asia Monitor Resource Centre Blog


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