Category Archives: Migration Policy in Thailand

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

This article has been cited by the following online media:

Provinces Authorized to Manage Foreign Workers in Special Economic Zones

The Ministry of Labour consulted the management of foreign workers in Special Economic Zones along the Southern border to support the fruit picking season, authorizing provinces to lead operations. 

Labour Minister General Surasak Karnjanarat presided over the consultation on the management of foreign workers in Special Economic Zones along the Southern border, which took place at the Tien Achkul room. After the meeting, the Labour Minister said that the meeting considered the entering of foreign workers from neighbouring countries for work in the agricultural sector and other industries within the Special Economic Zones and areas along the Southern borderline in the form of daily enter and exit, or seasonally which must be monitored carefully. The meeting agreed to authorize provincial governors and local units to run operations including the army and police for instance. The provincial governors will take on the duty as leaders in considering the inflow and outflow of foreign workers for the fruit picking season in each province, ensuring compliance to all regulations.

“As Thailand has agricultural provinces, we have a labour shortage during the fruit picking seasons in provinces such as Chanthaburi, Trat, Rayong and many other provinces including Special Economic Zones. At present, there are 10 provinces with these zones with each province having different working situations, and some areas providing daily entry and exit for foreign workers upon season. Therefore we looked at how we could make things more suitable to each situation in each area, simplifying things and reducing illegality and ensuring everything is monitored,” said the Labour Minister.

The Labour Minister further stated that the Ministry of Labour has collected information with the Ministry of Interior, especially for areas along the Southern borderline and Special Economic Zones, as the Ministry of Interior has extensive networks. The framework for operations is expected to be the same for each province, but some details may differ such as what to report, how to do things, when the inflow of workers are high because the fruit picking season is different in different areas. This will allow business owners to plan carefully and prevent any wrongdoing.

The fruit picking season in agricultural provinces spans 4 months during April, May, June and July of each year.

The information on the registration of Myanmar, Laotian and Cambodian workers in accordance to the Cabinet’s resolution on the 3rd March 2015 (information as of the 28th April 2015) had a total of 135,549 Myanmar citizens had registered for new cards and work permits whereby 132,137 were workers and 3,412 were followers. There was a total of 37,483 registered Laotians with 36,491 workers and 992 followers as well as 102,142 registered Cambodians consisting of 99,296 workers and 2,846 followers. Furthermore, there was a total of 59,483 employers. Provinces with the highest number of registered foreign workers were Bangkok with 63,175 workers, Samut Sakhon with 25,408 workers and Samut Prakarn with 15,572 workers.

By: Wichulada Buachai, Bureau of Public Relations, Ministry of Labour

Published on: 30 April 2015

Migrant workers to receive better welfare in Thailand

The Ministry of Labor is expected to provide better care for migrant workers in Thailand by enforcing stricter laws against dodgy employers and job agencies.

Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Labor, Nakhon Silapa-archa said at a meeting arranged in collaboration with the Ministry of Labor and the International Labor Organization (ILO), that the Thai government has placed great emphasis on the welfare of migrant workers.

It has also thanked the ILO for cooperating with Thailand in addressing a child labor issue and supporting the establishment of a migrant worker union.

There are more than 4 million workers from Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia entering Thailand each year. Mr. Nakhon added that the agencies must work together to ensure better protection for these migrant workers.

The Department of Employment has been told to take firm legal action against employers and job agencies taking advantage of these foreign workers.

By: National News Bureau of Thailand
Published on: 7 April 2015
Back to Top