Category Archives: Migration Policy in Thailand

Highlighting Labour Welfare And National Benefits For Foreign Worker Verification Deadline On The 31st March

The Ministry of Labour consulted with relevant agencies on outlining framework for solving foreign labour problems before proposing to the Board of Policies and the Cabinet for further consideration this March. It was revealed that the Board of Policies agreed with the directions for after the 31st March 2015, separating the foreign workers into 4 groups. The first group would be those who have passed the process with permission to work until the 31st March 2016, with the option of a 2 year extension. The second group would be those who have submitted names and must go through the process in order to progress into the first group, and the third group would consist of those unable to provide name lists which who will be returned to origin countries, in accordance to the National Council on Peace and Order’s policies. As for the fourth group being the followers, if name lists have been provided as assigned, then rights will be given which will be the same as the second group; if not, then charges will be made also.

General Kitti Pathummas, assistant to the Ministry of Labour presided over the consultation to determine methods and procedures in managing foreign labourers before proposing them to the Board of Policies on managing foreign workers and human trafficking at the Tien Achakul conference room on the 10th floor of the Ministry’s building. He talked about Labour Minister General Surasak Karnjanarat’s plan on the necessity for foreign workers to support businesses, and thus there is the direction for policies with 4 points consisting of 1) sufficient quantity of foreign labourers to support business growth 2) appropriate quantities of foreign labourers within legal framework whereby the defence side are able to manage and monitor 3) an appropriate quantity to not raise problems or effect society, culture, the environment and the lifestyle of Thai people 4) foreign labourers entering the Kingdom must have welfare and protection at international standards, not facilitating forced labour or human trafficking in any way.

As for processes to be done after the 31st March 2015, this has been separated into 4 groups consisting of 1) those who have passed the process with permission to work until the 31st March 2016, with the option of a 2 year extension 2) those who have provided a name list for the verification process but have not been able to do so, will be exempted and allowed to stay within the country until the 31st March 2016, where once they have passed the process, they will be allowed a 2 year extension like the first group 3) those who have not provided a name list within the 31st March 2015 will be inspected, arrested and retuned back to origins in accordance to the National Council on Peach and Order’s commandments number 100 and 101 4) Followers of foreign workers who have provided names within the 31st March 2015 will be permitted to remain in the Kingdom like the second group. As for followers who have no provided names, they will be returned to origin countries of have cases proceeded with like the third group.

The consultation concluded procedures for the systematic management of Myanmar, Laotian and Cambodian workers after the 31st March 2015, where those that have not gone through the verification process within the assigned date are to report themselves for new cards by the 31st May 2015. Foreign workers will be permitted a 1 year stay in the country starting from the 31st March 2015. These will be proposed to the Board of Policies on Friday the 27th February at the Government House, before being passed to the Council of Ministers for further consideration in early March.

As for methods and stages in registering foreign labourers in fisheries, the meeting agreed on the 7 stages which relevant agencies had proposed to the National Legislative Assembly. This included the registration and compilation of needs for fishery workers by employers whereby the Fisheries Association of Thailand will be the main agency with the center for fishery worker management in the 22 provinces in taking job applications and attracting people to work in fisheries. Only legal companies will be selected, where there will be coordination with origin countries within the G2G MOUs, importing workers by the Fisheries Association. Fishing organizations will coordinate with the Ministry of Labour in caring for the workers before boarding the vessels, whereby the Fisheries Association and members will arrange accommodation for the workers in the 22 coastal provinces. There will also be consistent inspections carried out by the Department of Fisheries with consequences for those in misconduct.

The meeting also agreed on the amendments for Memorandums of Understanding with origin countries, about the spacing time period for workers completing 4 years of overseas work. Originally, the spacing period was set at 3 years, whereby foreign workers would have to return to origin countries. However, the new proposal is a 30 day spacing period, before allowing foreign workers to return to work again. This will align to the amount of time needed to prepare relevant documents for re-entering the country, allowing workers to visit family members and to reduce the time period in between work.

By: Chaninthorn Petchtub, Bureau of Public Relations, Ministry of Labour

Published on: 24 February 2015

Ministry to register Vietnamese workers

The cabinet has approved a proposal to regulate Vietnamese migrants working in Thailand, a deputy government spokesman said yesterday.
Maj Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd said the cabinet had agreed to the Labour Ministry’s scheme to permit only Vietnamese who hold a passport and legally enter the country to register with the government, giving them the right to work for up to a year from registration.
Last year, the ministry introduced similar regulations for Myanmar workers in Thailand to suppress human trafficking and illegal working.
Labour officials now want to expand the registration of foreign workers to cover Vietnamese nationals after they have found many of them are working illegally in the country.
Employers will be required to bring their Vietnamese workers for registration at one-stop service centres nationwide. The registration must be renewed within 30 days after the one-year permit expires.
Vietnamese workers will be allowed to register for working in houses, restaurants, construction sites and in the fishing industry, he said. Cabinet had given the green light to begin recruiting Vietnamese workers to help solve Thailand’s labour shortage in the construction and fishing industries, Maj Gen Sansern said.
The government plans to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Vietnamese government over the recruitment of foreign workers by next month, he said.
If they are not legally registered, they are at risk of being deported, according to a source at the Labour Ministry. But Vietnamese workers who are currently working illegally will be given a grace period to work until Feb 28, 2016, the source said.By: Penchan Charoensuthipan, Bangkok Post

Published on: 11 February 2015

HIV-positive migrants denied care at Thai public hospitals – TRFN

BANGKOK, (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Zaw, an illegal Burmese migrant dying of AIDS-related illnesses, spent a weekend hunched over in waiting rooms at three Thai hospitals near Bangkok – each denying him care as he gasped for breath, his lungs full of fluid.
At a fourth hospital that admitted him, a doctor drove a large-gauge needle between his ribs, draining litres of fluid, but by then the 34-year-old was gravely ill.

Zaw died 40 days later – a death the Bangkok-based HIV Foundation that was helping him says could have been prevented with timely care.

Hospitals across the country are denying insurance and care to migrant labourers like Zaw despite an insurance scheme launched over a year ago, officials and rights advocates say.

“That’s the story we have once every six to eight weeks: people in this situation, and we can’t get them the care they need in time,” Scott Berry, an Australian adviser for the HIV Foundation, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“If we have a Thai, who has an identification card, we can pay for them to get them into a hospital, but if they’re from another country, then we find that really difficult to do.”

Thailand hosts an estimated 3 million migrant labourers, mostly from neighbouring Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos, and 1.6 million of them are legally registered with the government.

The country has had a health package for migrants for more than 10 years, officials say, but an August 2013 policy expanded the migrant health insurance benefits – at a cost of 2,100 baht ($64) per person – to include HIV prevention, care and antiretroviral (ARV) drugs.

“If you are non-Thai… documented or undocumented, you are eligible for that health insurance,” said Sumet Ongwandee, director of the health ministry’s bureau of AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases.

However, he and his colleagues acknowledge that many hospitals still turn away migrants because they do not understand how the insurance scheme works and worry they will have to cover the costly HIV care out of their own budgets.

For each migrant who buys health insurance, 600 baht ($18) is put into a fund for treatment of people with HIV/AIDS, and 50 baht ($1.50) into a fund for “high cost” care, including AIDS-related opportunistic infections such as tuberculosis, pneumonia and encephalitis.

Hospitals caring for HIV/AIDS patients need only to file claims and will be fully reimbursed, said Buncha Kakhong, head of the health insurance group in the permanent secretary’s office at the health ministry.

The ministry called in staff from the 800 hospitals around the country twice in the second half of last year to tell them how HIV/AIDS claims are made and how the central HIV/AIDS fund works, but some still may not understand, he said.

Hospitals are obliged to let patients buy an insurance card, Buncha told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. The ministry is trying hard to improve awareness, but there are no punishments for those who fail to provide service, he said.

HIV-POSITIVE MIGRANTS REJECTED

Thailand has made huge strides in fighting HIV, slashing the estimated number of people infected to 8,100 in 2013, from 143,000 in 1991, and last year extending free ARV drugs to all Thais with HIV.

HIV prevalence is about 1 percent among Thais aged 15 to 49, and about 1 to 2 percent among migrants.

Migrants, who do low-paying, backbreaking jobs across the country, face widespread exploitation and discrimination.

In the past, when migrants with AIDS sought care at hospitals, the staff would hand them over to NGOs, who would help transport them to the border, where they would die, too poor or ill to cross the border to return home, said Promboon Panitchpakdi, head of the Raks Thai Foundation.

Access to care for migrants with HIV has improved dramatically over the past decade, said Promboon, whose organisation has long worked on HIV prevention and care for migrants.

It is not clear yet if the migrant health insurance is sustainable and if its funds will cover the costs of care, he said. He urged Thailand to allocate part of its tax earnings to the health and welfare of migrants, and draft a law to back up the migrant insurance scheme.

“You can’t have a large health insurance without a law that enforces (it)… Who knows, the next government may say, ’Oh, let’s not do ARVs any more,’” he said.

Meanwhile, many hospitals remain reluctant to sell insurance to ill people, leaving those who are HIV-positive fighting for their lives.

“Although the policy was clear, localities were confused on issues of reimbursement and who was responsible for these migrants,” said Brahm Press, head of the MAP Foundation, an NGO in the northern city of Chiang Mai that works with Burmese migrants.

“We then started hearing about discrimination where hospitals were rejecting migrants they knew were HIV-positive.”

BABIES WITH HIV

The denial of care has also endangered the lives of babies born to migrant women with HIV.

Thailand prides itself on testing nearly all pregnant Thai women for HIV and providing ARVs to prevent mother-to-child transmission. The rate of HIV transmission from Thai mothers to their babies was 2.3 percent in 2013.

For non-Thais, however, only 71.5 percent of the HIV-positive women who seek antenatal care get ARVs. The rate of HIV transmission from these mothers to their babies is 4.8 percent.

The HIV Foundation, which has helped about 1,600 people since it began its work three years ago, has assisted six pregnant Burmese women with HIV, five of whom did not start ARVs until a month or so before their due dates.

“That’s very late,” said Piyathida Smutraprapoot, who is in charge of HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment for the Bangkok metropolitan area. “We want pregnant women to get tested early, and … start treatment immediately.”

Early ARV treatment will reduce the risk of the child contracting HIV from her.

One Burmese woman found out she was HIV-positive at her first antenatal visit, when she was six months pregnant.

She told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that she pleaded in vain with staff at a public hospital in Bangkok to sell her health insurance – even padding the 2,100-baht ($64) fee with a 3,900-baht ($120) bribe.

In her eighth month of pregnancy, with help from the HIV Foundation, she received ARV drugs to protect her unborn child from contracting the virus.

The baby’s first HIV test in October, at one month old, came back negative. The result of his second test in January is pending. He has a last test when he is nine months old.

Only then can doctors declare him HIV-free.

By: Thomson Reuters Foundation, The Nation
Published on: 9 February 2015

Implementing Models To Solve Issues Of Foreign Workers And Labour Shortages Approaching Citizenship Verification Deadline On 31st March

The Minister of Labour presided over the foreign worker and human trafficking management subcommittee meeting, consulting with other relevant agencies on directions to take in accordance to the Prime Minister’s policies, propelling citizenship verification processes and actions to take after the 31st March. The meeting further discussed solutions to labour shortages in preparation for the ASEAN Economic Community, reiterating the creation for a model to legally migrate foreign workers, supporting skilled workers for quality jobs and improving labour strategies to minimize societal impacts.
Labour Minister General Surasak Karnjanarat presided over the first meeting for the subcommittee on foreign worker and human trafficking management of 2015 which took place at the Professor Nikom Chandravithun conference room on the 5th floor of the Ministry’s building. The meeting considered the issue for direction of action on foreign labour management with the citizenship verification process ending on the 31stMarch 2015. The directions included providing rightful benefits to employers acting in accordance the National Council for Peace and Order’s commandments, providing rightful benefits to employers who have already presented foreign worker name lists to officers but experienced delays in citizenship verification and as for employers not presenting name lists, they would need to have laws enforced using commandment number 100 and 101. Foreign workers who have passed the verification procedure will be able to stay until the 31st October 2016, whereas those who have presented name lists but experienced delays in the process will be exempt as the verification procedure will not be completed within the 31st of March this year. As for the group that have not presented name lists, necessary would be taken with employers that have foreign workers in the workplace. The conclusion for course of action on foreign workers from Myanmar, Lao and Cambodia and fishery workers after the 31st March 2015 would have to be presented to the Deputy Prime Minister on stability before being presented to the Council of Ministers for further consideration.
In addition to this, the course of action for foreign worker registration in the fisheries industry would initially start with seven stages, whereby relevant agencies collaboratively analyzed and presented to the National Legislative Assembly. The beginning would start with the registration of employers in the fishing industry and collecting labour needs by businesses whereby the Thai Fisheries Association in collaboration with the Marine Fisheries Management Center in 22 provinces would be responsible for taking applications from Thai workers to motivate the Thai workforce into the industry, selecting legal businesses and employers, coordinating with origin counties under conditions of the MOU between the two nations. The Thai Fisheries Association would also be responsible for the migration of foreign workers whereby businesses and employers would need to coordinate with the Ministry of Labour. Fishery workers will also be cared for before boarding vessels, in which the Thai Fisheries Association would arrange accommodation nearby the sea in the 22 provinces. Vessel inspections would be carried out by the Department of Fisheries and penalties would be given to the businesses not acting in accordance to laws.
As for the amendments in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with origin counties about time spaces after foreign workers have completed 4 years, originally foreign workers would have to wait 3 years before returning to work, however the new proposal has outlined a 30 day waiting period instead. This would be in line to the time period needed for preparing necessary documents, providing continuity in working simultaneously allowing workers to return home to families.
The Labour Minister said that on the 20th of January 2015, the Prime Minister issued new commandments on the acceleration of citizenship verification as a result of postponements. Thus he said that measures would have to be constructed to also find solutions to the issue of an insufficient number in workforce and preparedness for the ASEAN Economic Community.
 
The separation of the Social Security Fund for Thai people and foreign workers has been designated to the Permanent Secretary of Labour to proceed with the drafting of the Social Security Act for foreign workers. As the present social security fund does not separate Thai and foreign workers, there has been the necessity to detach them in order to allow foreign workers the necessary rights when returning to origin countries. There will also be additions to the National Labour Strategy concerning impacts to society and culture as even though workers are within legal boundaries, with no effect on stability and improving the economy, it must also be ensured that there will be no societal impacts too.
“We will create a model on migrating workers legally. There may be exemptions and relief allowances in some areas so all sectors must collaborate. As for quality workers, good businesses, adhering to Thai laws and living with Thai culture, we must create incentives for them to stay with us. Businesses may need to set a system. For foreign workers, laws and regulations will be enforced and those found in misconduct will be penalized and action will be taken to send illegal foreign workers back to home origins,” said the Labour Minister.
By: Chaninthorn Petchtub, Bureau of Public Relations, Ministry of Labour
Published on: 6 February 2015

40,000 Passports Printed for Workers in Thailand

The government has to date printed passports for two-thirds of the roughly 60,000 Cambodians currently working in Thailand who have asked for the documents in order to stay there legally, an Interior Ministry official said Tuesday.

Mao Chandara, who heads the ministry’s general department of identification, said that up until Tuesday about 60,000 migrant workers in Thailand had requested passports.

“We have printed about 40,000 passports,” he said. “We will send them as soon as the Thai authorities issue work permits and visas for them.”

In June last year, a month after the Thai Army overthrew the country’s democratically elected government, some 225,000 Cambodians fled Thailand fearing that the new military junta was intent on arresting illegal migrant workers.

In order to help them return legally, the Cambodian government slashed the price of passports from $124 to $4. By late July, however, Mr. Chandara said his department had issued only 500 passports since the exodus.

Even so, the Thai Labor Ministry reported that the number of Cambodian migrant workers in the country was back up to about 680,000 as of November 6.

In December, the Mekong Migration Network, which monitors migration in the region, released a fact-finding report about Cambodians working in Thailand. It said that most of the Cambodians in the country were on temporary work permits.

Those permits are set to expire on March 31, and Thailand has yet to explain what will happen to the workers who have them when that day arrives.

Chhea Manith, who heads Banteay Meanchey province’s transit office, which assists migrant workers, said Tuesday that about 100 workers were being sent back from Thailand to the province each day.

“We do not know why they didn’t go fill out an application to work legally in Thailand,” Ms. Manith said. “Maybe they don’t have enough money.”

By: Khuon Narim, The Cambodia Daily

Publushed on: 4 February 2015

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