Category Archives: Migration Policy in Thailand

Thai PM meet with Cambodian Deputy PM and Minister of Foreign Affairs

July 10, 2015, at 1330hrs, at the Ivory Room, Thai Ku Fah Building, Government House, H.E. Hor Namhong, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia, paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha (Ret.) on the occasion of his official visit to Thailand to attend the Foreign Minister Retreat. Maj Gen Weerachon Sukhontapatipak, Deputy Government Spokesperson, revealed gist of the meeting as follows:

 

Both parties also discussed labor cooperation. PM Prayut insisted that the Royal Thai Government had no policy to use violence against illegal migrant labors. The Government had earlier given opportunities for employers to register illegal labors. From now on, there will be random checks, and employers or agents who hire illegal migrant workers will be prosecuted. The Prime Minister called for Cambodia to rush in verifying nationality and issuing passport for Cambodian migrant workers. On the other hand, Thailand stands ready to provide support, especially in skill development for Cambodian workers along the border area. The Cambodian Deputy PM and Minister of Foreign Affairs thanked the Thai Government for its assistance provided to Cambodian migrant workers and commended an establishment of the One Stop Services to tackle the problem of illegal migrant workers. Both Thailand and Cambodia also came to terms on the need to produce more vocational graduates since labor skill development will greatly benefit the two countries once ASEAN Community is realized.

On expansion of trade and investment, PM Prayut viewed that Thailand and Cambodia should promote connectivity both on land and sea, and expressed Thailand’s readiness to cooperate with Cambodia in an opening of Stung Bot border crossing point to alleviate congestion at Aranyaprathet- Poipet crossing point. H.E. Hor Namhong agreed that Stung Bot border crossing point is more suitable for logistics purpose, while one at Aranyaprathet- Poipet is better known among tourists. Both parties also endorsed the development of special economic zone at an area in Ban Nong Ean- Stung Bot. Concerned agencies will discuss further in detail on the matter.

By: The Royal Thai Government

Published on: 10 July 2015

Migrant deadline passes in Thailand, Phnom Penh Post

A last-minute rush of largely Cambodian, Burmese and Laotian undocumented workers is expected to descend today on Thailand’s one-stop service centres for visas and work permits (OCCS), as Thai authorities yesterday signalled a crackdown on illegal labour.

More than 100,000 Cambodian workers in Thailand could face arrest and deportation after the deadline for reapplying for a work permit extension came and went yesterday.

“There are a significant number of workers at risk of arrest and deportation, or as usual, arrest, extortion and release … [among] the most prominent features of Thai migration policy for decades now,” said Thailand-based migrant expert and workers’ rights advocate Andy Hall.

The Thai government had previously pushed back a March 31 deadline, giving undocumented workers until yesterday to extend their work permits for a year, in which time they were expected to be issued passports by their respective governments.

Hall added it was simply “not possible” to re-register the huge number of workers in time, raising the possibility of a repeat of last year’s mass exodus, when some 225,000 Cambodian workers fled back across the border after the Thai junta cracked down on illegal migrants.

According to figures from Thailand’s Office of Foreign Workers Administration, 738,947 Cambodian migrants, 696,338 workers and 42,609 dependents registered at OCCSs last year.

Of these, 173,467 had the correct documents. As of June 22, a further 391,628 had reapplied for a work permit.

This leaves more than 130,000 at risk of deportation.

Quoted by Thai state media yesterday, Thailand’s Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Labour Sumet Mahosot warned that the Department of Employment would start monitoring workplaces and penalising employers and employees who missed the deadline.

Mahosot said 990,716 migrants had renewed their permits as of Monday, and he expected that number to surpass one million today.

He did not, however, break down the numbers according to nationality, or indicate how many previously registered migrants were yet to reapply.

Omsin Boonlert, a Chiang Mai-based research officer for the Mekong Migration Network, said many illegal migrants were hoping that the authorities will offer a reprieve and extend the deadline again.

Boonlert said the work permit process, largely dependent on employers, was made difficult as many companies lacked “cancellation” documents from their employees former workplaces.

Prices for the renewals were also much higher than the stated rates, with brokers and officials known to add extra fees, she said.

Spokesmen for Cambodia’s Foreign and Labour Ministries could not be reached.

Banteay Meanchey Governor Korsum Saroeut reported no additional activity at the border as of yesterday.

“Now we are waiting for a decision,” said Saroeut, who sits on a recently established committee created to help Cambodian workers if deportations begin. “In 2014, we did not know anything and then Thailand sent the workers back.”

By Shaun Turton
Published on 1 July 2015

Hundreds of thousands lack Thai work papers, The Phnom Penh Post

With less than three weeks left until the deadline, over 300,000 Cambodian migrants registered in Thailand have not completed the verification process necessary to receive work visas, raising the possibility of a repeat of last year’s mass exodus.

According to figures from the Thai Labour Ministry obtained yesterday, out of almost 520,000 registered Cambodian migrants, approximately 98,000 already had all the necessary documentation, while around 107,000 have completed the verification process and now possess work visas valid until March 2016. But almost 314,000 do not have passports and are yet to be verified.

According to Andy Hall, a migrants’ rights activist focused on Thailand and Myanmar, the sheer volume of workers yet to complete the process makes verification before the deadline “impossible”.

“It’s going to take a long time, it’s just not realistic,” Hall said.

Those numbers also appear to leave more than 200,000 Cambodian migrants unaccounted for, after about 740,000 were registered last year during a registration amnesty following an exodus of at least 200,000 in mid-2014.

“This shows the problems with the registration system and the chaos and confusion,” said Hall.

Spokespeople for Thailand’s Foreign and Labour Ministries could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The current verification process was approved in early-March and stipulated that all migrant workers had to be registered by March 31.

Those who registered without becoming verified had to then apply for a new temporary work permit by June 30 in order to receive one-year work visas. Anyone who has not completed the process by that date is eligible for deportation.

But Hall says it is likely the deadline will be extended, in large part because “Thailand relies on its migrant workers”.

According to Meng Seang, deputy chief of party for USAID’s Counter Trafficking in Persons project, the prospect of an extension was discussed by Thai border officials and representatives of Banteay Meanchey province during a meeting of officials, NGOs and civil society groups in Poipet last week.

However, Seang stressed that no representative of the Thai Labour Ministry was present at the meeting, and as yet “there is no new regulation or policy for an extension” in place.

In the event an extension is not implemented and the Thai government does begin deportations, it could prove extremely costly for both governments.

“Last year it cost an estimated $5 million to deal with 200,000 migrants,” said Seang. “This time it would be many more than 200,000.”

By Charles Parkinson
Published on 12 June 2015

B300 wage to be scrapped next year

The 300-baht national daily minimum wage will be scrapped next year, to be replaced by the old system where wages vary by each province based on the cost of living.
The rate will take effect until the end of this year, Labour Ministry permanent secretary Nakhon Silpa-archa was quoted by Thai media as saying at a seminar of wage committee members on Friday.
It remains undecided whether the daily minimum wage will be higher but the Wage Committee decided on Dec 8, 2014 to reinstate the old regime where wages vary by the cost of living and the economy of each province, he said.
“The ministry is studying the feasibility of floating wages and an appropriate way to set the rates,” he said.
The change will increase Thailand’s competitiveness and employment rates, said Mr Nakorn, adding it would also improve the living conditions of workers and reduce wage disparities. Employees will have to improve their skills and productivity, the key factors determining wages and incomes.
For 2016, the provincial wage committees were asked to study and propose the minimum wages, to be considered at a national meeting in October.
A guideline for 2016 will also be used as a standard for the following years.
The Thai Labour Solidarity Committee proposed in late March that the minimum wage be increased to 360 baht a day after a 2015 survey found the cost of living of workers almost doubled from 2013.
The 300-baht minimum wage, a more than 100% increase for workers in some provinces, was one of the election campaigns of the Yingluck Shinawatra government. Taking effect in 2013, it drew substantial resistance from employers who claim it undermine the country’s competitiveness. The hike was also blamed for the current export slump Thailand is now facing.
The Yingluck government defended the move, saying the wage had not been revised for several years and was far below a reasonable cost of living. It helped operators by provide tax breaks for machine imports to replace more expensive labour.
A wage committee consists of five representatives each from employers, employees and the government.
Daily minimum wages in Asean (in baht)
Singapore       2,000
Brunei            1,800
Thailand         300
Philippines      300
Malaysia         270
Indonesia       230
Myanmar       110
Vietnam         95
Laos              80
Cambodia       75
By: Bangkok Post
Published on: 6 June 2015

Desperate migrant pays for baby to be drugged, smuggled to Myanmar – researchers, Reuters

BANGKOK, May 27 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A Burmese woman working in Thailand hired a man to sedate and smuggle her 3-month-old baby across the border to relatives in Myanmar, researchers said, describing a common “service” for desperate migrant mothers fearful of losing their jobs.Researchers whose study was published on Wednesday surveyed 114 women migrants in the six countries along the Mekong River about their health, and found that many went to extremes to end pregnancies or send babies home because of problems at work.”A lot of people noted they will get fired when they get pregnant when they are abroad… they will get fired and go home,” said Rebecca Napier-Moore, who wrote the report for the Mekong Migration Network, an advocacy umbrella group of organisations.

The woman who hired the smuggler – a migrant in her 20s who used to work at a fish canning factory near the Thailand-Malaysia border – told researchers her employer did not allow babies in the workplace and she could not afford a babysitter.

“So I sent my baby with a broker to my parents in Mon state, Myanmar,” the woman was quoted as saying in the report. “You need to pay a broker 5,000 baht ($150) for one baby” who they sedate with drugs for the duration of the journey.

Brahm Press, director of the MAP Foundation rights group based in the northern Thai city Chiang Mai, who led the research in Thailand, said her account indicated the service was a known way for Burmese women in Thailand to send their babies home.

“It’s not uncommon. This is a service they (smugglers) provide,” Press told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by telephone.

Millions of migrants cross borders to find work in the Greater Mekong subregion, made up of Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and Yunnan and Guangxi provinces in China.

Thailand, the main destination country, hosts an estimated 3 million documented and undocumented migrant workers, 80 percent of whom are from Myanmar.

Migrants are often unable or unwilling to access health care in host countries because of discrimination, high costs, language barriers, or fear of arrest and deportation.

The study said that of the women interviewed – who worked in sectors including construction, agriculture, domestic work, sex work, retail and manufacturing – 41 percent lacked migration documents.

DANGEROUS ABORTIONS

The most shocking accounts in the report involved pregnant women, very few of whom receive antenatal care. The study found that 57 percent of women worked at places with no maternity leave.

A former sex worker from Myanmar told researchers that a Thai employer sent her friend to Myanmar for an unsafe abortion with an untrained midwife.

“She put red medicine into my friend’s vagina, and massaged her pregnant belly hard. Blood came out after half an hour and then the foetus,” the unnamed woman was quoted as saying.

The cost of the abortion depends how far along the pregnancy is, the woman said. “For aborting after one month of pregnancy, we need to pay 10,000 kyat ($10). Some women die during these abortions.”

The report said that the women surveyed – 62 percent of whom had no health insurance – usually treat themselves and continue to work while ill.

Many use home remedies and seek care from traditional healers or pharmacies, where they can get drugs “faster, cheaper and without the discrimination they might find in hospitals”.

Because of language barriers or miscommunication, migrants may get the wrong medication, or they may receive no advice about how to take the medication, the report said.

“Counterfeit or poor quality drugs, overuse of antibiotics and poisoning are risks of self-treatment in a region that does not strictly regulate pharmacies or require prescriptions for most drugs”, the report said.

By Alisa Tang
Published on 27 May 2015

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