Category Archives: MMN Media Coverage

The Phnom Penh Post reports on MMN’s report, “Safe from the Start: The Roles of Countries of Origin in Protecting Migrants”

Migrant worker protections ‘lacking’, reports find

Cambodian migrant workers who were deported by Thai authorities are processed at the Poipet Transit Centre earlier this month in Banteay Meanchey province. Photo credit: Sahiba Chawdhary

Cambodia lacks effective mechanisms to protect its citizens working both as legal and undocumented migrants abroad, where such workers also face insufficient protection from the countries that receive them, according to two new reports published last week.

The reports come at a time of major crackdowns on undocumented migrants in the region. Thousands of Cambodians have returned home after Thailand passed new laws imposing strict punishments on undocumented workers and their employers, while Malaysia has arrested thousands of workers since July 1 in a campaign against undocumented migrants.

Mekong Migration Network’s (MMN) report Safe from the Start – The Roles of Countries of Origin in Protecting Migrants found in interviews with Cambodian migrant workers that the Kingdom needs to better regulate its recruitment agencies, reduce costs and time for legal migration channels, provide better overseas assistance and establish effective complaint mechanisms. They also recommend strengthening predeparture training.

Reiko Harima, MMN regional coordinator, said in an email that “the most urgent tasks for Cambodia are to improve overseas assistance, and also to negotiate with Thailand to improve conditions for migrant workers”.

“[Migrants] reported to MMN that when they have approached embassies for help, they were not given assistance,” she said. What’s more, she added, “Cambodian migrants leaving Thailand experience difficulty securing the social security benefits that they are entitled to, as there is no practical mechanism for the transfer of money.”

In a push to document migrant workers in Thailand, Cambodia’s Labour Ministry in a statement yesterday clarified the procedure: Thai employers have to register their undocumented Cambodian workers by August 7 at one of the 97 newly established offices in Thailand, where Cambodians workers then have to present themselves between August 8 and September 9. Until December 31, workers “must not change the employer or locations, or resign without permission”.

Ministry spokesperson Heng Sour in a Facebook video on Sunday said the procedure benefited the workers, who would “get the salary based on the law of Thailand, get health and life insurance during the work and get the National Social Security from the Thai government”.

But Moeun Tola, director of labour rights group Central, yesterday said that this was insufficient. “It’s not effective enough yet, since some employers prefer hiring undocumented workers instead of documented ones,” he said.

However, Cambodia doesn’t bear sole responsibility for protecting its migrants, according to a report titled Towards a Comprehensive National Policy on Labour Migration for Malaysia.

The Migrant Workers Right to Redress Coalition expressed concern regarding recruitment processes – which they say have to be formalised and regulated better – and a number of other issues facing migrant workers, including Cambodians, in Malaysia.

“[There] is no comprehensive national policy on labour migration, to ensure . . . that abuses against workers, social dislocation, profiteering, human trafficking and modern day slavery are rooted out and stopped,” it reads.

Adrian Pereira, a coordinator for the North-South Initiative who was involved in the drafting of the paper, said in a message that the most urgent concern was that agreements between Cambodia and Malaysia and workers’ contracts should “guarantee basic rights of workers at all stages of recruitment to employment to return”. “Only when rights [are] in black and white can we ensure [they are] materialised and not based on ‘good will’ of any party.”

These rights include decent salaries, working hours, vacation days and more, he said.

Tan Heang-Lee, communications’ officer at Women’s Aid Organisation Malaysia, said that women were particularly vulnerable. “There must be greater recognition of domestic work as work, and of domestic workers as employees,” she said. “Migrant domestic workers are excluded from many of the protections and provisions of the Employment Act.”

 

By: Leonie Kijewski and Soth Koemsoeun, The Phnom Penh Post

Published on: Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Link to article: http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/migrant-worker-protections-lacking-reports-find

MMIN in media: Migrant worker protections ‘lacking’, reports find ( Phnom Penh Post)

Cambodian migrant workers who were deported by Thai authorities are processed at the Poipet Transit Centre earlier this month in Banteay Meanchey province. Sahiba Chawdhary

Cambodia lacks effective mechanisms to protect its citizens working both as legal and undocumented migrants abroad, where such workers also face insufficient protection from the countries that receive them, according to two new reports published last week.

The reports come at a time of major crackdowns on undocumented migrants in the region. Thousands of Cambodians have returned home after Thailand passed new laws imposing strict punishments on undocumented workers and their employers, while Malaysia has arrested thousands of workers since July 1 in a campaign against undocumented migrants.

Mekong Migration Network’s (MMN) report Safe from the Start – The Roles of Countries of Origin in Protecting Migrants found in interviews with Cambodian migrant workers that the Kingdom needs to better regulate its recruitment agencies, reduce costs and time for legal migration channels, provide better overseas assistance and establish effective complaint mechanisms. They also recommend strengthening predeparture training.

Reiko Harima, MMN regional coordinator, said in an email that “the most urgent tasks for Cambodia are to improve overseas assistance, and also to negotiate with Thailand to improve conditions for migrant workers”.

“[Migrants] reported to MMN that when they have approached embassies for help, they were not given assistance,” she said. What’s more, she added, “Cambodian migrants leaving Thailand experience difficulty securing the social security benefits that they are entitled to, as there is no practical mechanism for the transfer of money.”

In a push to document migrant workers in Thailand, Cambodia’s Labour Ministry in a statement yesterday clarified the procedure: Thai employers have to register their undocumented Cambodian workers by August 7 at one of the 97 newly established offices in Thailand, where Cambodians workers then have to present themselves between August 8 and September 9. Until December 31, workers “must not change the employer or locations, or resign without permission”.

Ministry spokesperson Heng Sour in a Facebook video on Sunday said the procedure benefited the workers, who would “get the salary based on the law of Thailand, get health and life insurance during the work and get the National Social Security from the Thai government”.

But Moeun Tola, director of labour rights group Central, yesterday said that this was insufficient. “It’s not effective enough yet, since some employers prefer hiring undocumented workers instead of documented ones,” he said.

However, Cambodia doesn’t bear sole responsibility for protecting its migrants, according to a report titled Towards a Comprehensive National Policy on Labour Migration for Malaysia.

The Migrant Workers Right to Redress Coalition expressed concern regarding recruitment processes – which they say have to be formalised and regulated better – and a number of other issues facing migrant workers, including Cambodians, in Malaysia.

“[There] is no comprehensive national policy on labour migration, to ensure . . . that abuses against workers, social dislocation, profiteering, human trafficking and modern day slavery are rooted out and stopped,” it reads.

Adrian Pereira, a coordinator for the North-South Initiative who was involved in the drafting of the paper, said in a message that the most urgent concern was that agreements between Cambodia and Malaysia and workers’ contracts should “guarantee basic rights of workers at all stages of recruitment to employment to return”. “Only when rights [are] in black and white can we ensure [they are] materialised and not based on ‘good will’ of any party.”

These rights include decent salaries, working hours, vacation days and more, he said.

Tan Heang-Lee, communications’ officer at Women’s Aid Organisation Malaysia, said that women were particularly vulnerable. “There must be greater recognition of domestic work as work, and of domestic workers as employees,” she said. “Migrant domestic workers are excluded from many of the protections and provisions of the Employment Act.”

 

By: Leonie Kijewski and Soth Koemsoeun, Phnom Penh Post

Published on: 25 July 2017

 

 

MMN in media: Mekong Migration Network recommends the Countries of Origin governments for better access to necessary documents and complaint mechanisms ( Burmese Language video)

ေရႊ႕ေျပာင္းလုပ္သားမ်ား လိုအပ္သည့္ စာရြက္စာတမ္းမ်ား ရယူေရးႏွင့္ တိုင္ၾကားရာတြင္ ပိုမိုအဆင္ေျပေအာင္ ေဆာင္ရြက္ေပးရန္ မဲေခါင္ေရႊ႕ေျပာင္းသြားလာျခင္းဆိုင္ရာ ကြန္ရက္ အၾကံျပဳ

ေရႊ႕ေျပာင္းလုပ္သားမ်ား လိုအပ္သည့္ စာရြက္စာတမ္းမ်ား ရယူေရးႏွင့္ တိုင္ၾကားရာတြင္ ပိုမို အဆင္ ေျပေအာင္ ေဆာင္ရြက္ေပးရန္ မဲေခါင္ေရႊ႕ေျပာင္းသြားလာျခင္းဆိုင္ရာ ကြန္ရက္ အၾကံျပဳ (ရုပ္သံ)

ေရႊ႕ေျပာင္းလုပ္သားေတြအတြက္ စာရြက္စာတမ္းေတြ ရယူေရးနဲ႔ တိုင္ၾကားမႈေတြျပဳလုပ္ရာမွာ ပိုမိုအဆင္ ေျပေအာင္ေဆာင္ရြက္ေပးဖို႔ ျမန္မာနဲ႔ ကေမၻာဒီးယားႏိုင္ငံေတြကို မဲေခါင္ေရႊ႕ေျပာင္းသြား လာျခင္းဆိုင္ရာ ကြန္ရက္အဖြဲ႕က အၾကံျပဳခဲ့ပါတယ္

Mekong Migration Network recommends Myanmar and Cambodia Governments to provide better access to necessary documents and complaint mechanisms to migrant workers.

The Mekong Migration Network conducted research that focused on the needs of migrant workers from Cambodia and Myanmar/Burma. The results of their research brought them to make 11 recommendations to both the Burmese and Cambodian Governments to provide better migration practices, which include improved access to necessary documents and complaint mechanisms to migrant workers.

 Mekong Migration Network is holding Policy Dialogue Meeting on Roles of Countries of Origin starting from 20th July in Yangon. The purpose of the two day meeting was to bring together key stakeholders, government officials, recruitment agencies and CSOs from both Myanmar/Burma and Cambodia. The outcome from the meeting, is to use the information as an advocacy tool for the governments and the CSOs to better foster the issue. The next step is to present this information to the high ministerial level step by step.

By: Eleven Broadcasting

On: 21 July 2017

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

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