Category Archives: Migration Policy in Thailand

Suu Kyi to Meet With Migrant Workers During Thailand Visit

RANGOON — Burma State Counselor and Foreign Affairs Minister Aung San Suu Kyi will meet with Burmese migrant workers in Thailand during her visit to the country in late June, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Kyaw Zeya, a director-general from the foreign affairs ministry, told The Irrawaddy on Monday that specific itineraries have yet to be finalized; the two countries’ officials are still hashing out the details for the three-day visit scheduled from June 23 to 25. Suu Kyi will reportedly visit the fishing town of Mahachai in Samut Sakhon, which is home to a large Burmese migrant worker community.

“In promoting mutual relations and cooperation between our two countries, Burmese migrant worker issues also play an important role,” Kyaw Zeya said.

“She will go and meet them in order to hear their experiences and the difficulties they are facing,” he added, regarding Suu Kyi’s trip.

Kyaw Zeya also said that Suu Kyi has plans to visit Thailand’s refugee camps, but he was unable to confirm further details. Zaw Htay, the President Office’s spokesperson, declined to comment on whether President Htin Kyaw would join Suu Kyi on the trip.

A Thailand-based migrant workers’ rights activist, Andy Hall, told The Irrawaddy on Monday that the visit would be a dual opportunity for Suu Kyi to tackle the issue of migrant worker exploitation in Thailand and to keep a promise she made during a visit to Mahachai in 2012.

Suu Kyi’s 2012 trip to Thailand was her first outside of Burma after being released from house arrest, under which she was first placed in 1989. During this visit, she vowed to help Burmese migrant workers once she was in a position to do so.

“This time, she would go back to Mahachai. [I think] she wants to keep her promise to the migrant community,” Andy Hall said. “I think Suu Kyi will be trying to push the Thai government to give more training [to migrant workers] to increase [their] skills so that they can come back home to [Burma] and help build the country’s economy.”

Sein Htay, president of the Migrant Worker Rights Network (MWRN), said that Burmese migrant workers in Thailand believe that Suu Kyi will take the issue of migrant worker exploitation seriously, given her powerful position in Burma.

“Burmese migrant workers hope that she will help to improve legal protections for them, something that needs to be addressed urgently,” he said.

Sein Htay also emphasized the importance of skills training and the need for access to education and healthcare for migrant workers and their children, and how these issues need to be worked into long-term plans between the two countries.

According to MWRN’s estimation, there are some 3 million Burmese migrant workers in Thailand.

By: Tin Htet Paing, The Irrawaddy

Published on: 6 June 2016

Minister settles worker import plan with Myanmar

Thai and Myanmar labour ministers have agreed to proceed with a labour cooperation plan to import migrant workers through a government-to-government agreement, says a senior ministry official.

Labour spokesman Theerapol Khunmuang said the plan is aimed not only at putting an end to labour exploitation and human trafficking, but also ensuring migrant workers’ rights are protected.

The agreement was concluded on a recent visit to Myanmar by Labour Minister Gen Sirichai Distakul, he said, noting the meeting was a follow-up on the previous one in January in Nay Pyi Taw, the capital of Myanmar.

Mr Theerapol said the meeting in Myanmar was also intended to prepare for an upcoming meeting of Asean labour ministers in Laos in the middle of this month.

Thailand has already signed a labour agreement with Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia.

He said the Labour Ministry will submit the proposed government-to-government labour procurement agreement to the cabinet for approval.

Both countries have agreed to set up working panels to prepare for the arrangement and launch of public relations campaigns to inform workers about welfare benefits and expenses to prevent them from being exploited.

Gen Sirichai had also allayed concerns that bringing in migrant workers would dislodge Thais from their jobs, saying the import was merely intended to ease a shortage in certain industries where Thais do not want to work.

Meanwhile, the National Steering Reform Assembly (NRSA) on Wednesday endorsed a report calling for all-year round registration of migrant workers at permanent border checkpoints to encourage illegal workers to enter the labour system.

The report, prepared by the NRSA committee on social affairs, intends to help bring illegal migrant workers into the system to ensure their rights are protected and they have a decent working environment, work safety, social protection and welfare, officials said.

By: Bangkok Post

Published on: 5 May 2016


Thais put freeze on new docs for workers

The Ministry of Labour announced on Wednesday it will delay issuing passports to migrant workers to legally work in Thailand until August at the request of Thai officials.

Minister Ith Samheng said workers will be able to obtain their legal documents at One Stop Service or at any of Thailand’s 77 Labour Department locations beginning August 1.

A fee will be posted at the related locations on that date, he said. The fee will be set by officials in Cambodia and Thailand.

The many workers who cross into Thailand illegally for work often face harassment and even extortion at the hands of authorities, advocates say.

Sam Chet, a police chief of Banteay Meanchey province, said there are still many Cambodian illegal workers being deported back to the Kingdom from Thailand.

Immigration officials in Poipet in 2015 reported a total of 67,087 deported Cambodian workers, police said.

By: The Phnom Penh Post

Published on: 22 April 2016

Decision on victims of trafficking welcomed

THE UN refugee agency (UNHCR) announced yesterday that it was encouraged by the government’s decision to allow human-trafficking victims to stay and work in the Kingdom temporarily.

On Sunday, Grisada Boonrach, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Interior, said both victims and witnesses of human trafficking would be granted permission to stay in Thailand for up to one year while cases are investigated as part of the larger effort to combat human smuggling and trafficking.

The temporary permits could be extended for another year depending on the progress of human-trafficking trials, and victims would be allowed to apply for work permits while they stay in the country.

“This is a positive step in the right direction,” said Ruvendrini Menikdiwela, UNHCR representative in Bangkok.

“It acknowledges the specific needs of people who have suffered at the hands of smugglers and |traffickers, including people who fled conflict and persecution back home.

“This move provides an important alternative to detention, protects them from being returned to a place where their lives and freedoms could be in danger, and grants them the right to work so that they can be self-reliant as they await longer-term solutions.”

Every person who has been identified as a victim of human trafficking would benefit from the decision, according to the government, including nearly 400 Rohingya being held in immigration detention centres and shelters run by the Ministry of Social Development |and Human Security around the country.

By: The Nation
Published on: 12 April 2016

Migrant workers exempted from visa fees for Songkran

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has used Section 44 of the interim constitution to exempt migrant workers from Myanmar, Lao and Cambodia who possess pink work permits from paying fees to return home during the Songkran holidays.

The migrant workers, however, must receive permission from their employers to leave work, and return to Thailand no later than April 20.

Known as Songkran in Thailand and Laos, the Buddhist New Year is celebrated as Khmer New Year in Cambodia and Thingyan in Myanmar. The premise, however, is the same, with all the countries bringing in the holiday with fervent water fights.

Labour Minister Gen Sirichai Distakul, who proposed the idea, said the fee-forgiveness was aimed at forging good relations with neighbouring countries and improve the image of Thailand’s treatment of foreign workers.

The waiver applies to various groups of workers, including those in the fishing and seafood-processing industries who hold the so-called “pink cards” with expiry dates of March 31 through March 31, 2018.

Eligible workers must have passed nationality verification, while children under age 18 must possess passports, temporary passports, travel documents or certificates of identity.

The order was published in the Royal Gazette on Monday and is effective immediately.

By: Bangkok Post

Published on: 11 April 2016


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