Category Archives: Migration Policy in Thailand

World Bank report urges Thailand to revisit migrant worker policies to pursue 4.0 growth strategy

World Bank report urges Thailand to revisit migrant worker policies to pursue 4.0 growth strategy

THAILAND is home to more than 55 per cent of the region’s migrant workers but if the country could back it up with proper policies, it could contribute to economic growth under the much-talked-about Thailand 4.0 strategy, according to a World Bank report.

Unveiling the report yesterday at an event jointly organised by the Labour Ministry and World Bank, Mauro Testaverde, the bank’s economist for the East Asia and Pacific Social Protection and Labour Unit stressed that effective migrant systems could play a critical role in today’s knowledge-based economies by attracting highly productive, formally employed workers.

While the Asean Economic Community may now allow free movement of workers, the expert explained that Asean countries only focused on high-skilled migration which did not cover the majority of the intra-region migrants, who were mostly low-skilled and often undocumented.

Although trends showed a change in demography that indicated Thailand may be in need of more workers, Testaverde pointed out that Thailand has banned migrant workers from 39 occupations, including some of those listed by the Asean’s Mutual Recognition Agreements, such as engineering, accounting, and architects. Thailand at least could first address shortages in the labour markets, he said.

Apart from that, the country could try to be more evidence-based, transparent and predictable when it came to migration policies, he added. Meanwhile, adjusting the policies in accordance with the rapid change in the labour markets was also advisable, he said.

Currently, with a high number of informal migrants, the World Bank report entitled “Migrating to Opportunity: Overcoming Barriers to Labor Mobility in Southeast Asia” also suggested that Thailand needed to work more to accommodate the needs of the large population of undocumented migrants, rationalise entry procedures that are currently costly and time-consuming, aside from rethinking immigration policies.

Three major economies in the region – Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia – host a combined 6.5 million migrant workers, equivalent to 96 per cent of the entire region.

Nearly half of the 3 million migrant workers in Thailand are undocumented, according to Labour Minister Adul Sangsingkeo. Migrant workers in Thailand are mostly from Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia, the bank report said.

Labour mobility in Asean brings benefits to the citizens of both receiving and sending countries, Adul said. However, a migration system requires collaboration between not only sending and receiving countries but also other stakeholders, in order to bring about the greatest gains from labour migration, the labour minister said.

Meanwhile, Jane Namchaisiri, chairman of a joint panel of the Federation of Thai Industries, said that the mindset on migrant workers in Thailand needed to change. While the common impression is that the migrants were taking away the welfare of Thais, Jane said they were an important part of the workforce and made a significant economic contribution.

Jane also shared his experience about migrant workers, complaining that paperwork remained a serious problem. Hiring 200 migrant workers required a company to work on 200 sets of paperwork, which could be time-consuming, an experience corroborated by the World Bank report.

As reform has been a major theme in Thailand in the past four years, Ulrich Zachau, World Bank director for Thailand, said the World Bank supports reforms that ensure consistency of migration policies and systems with Thailand’s economic needs

Efforts to align migration policies and systems with its strategic transformation into a modern, high-knowledge, innovative economy are highly welcome, he added.

“Strong, streamlined labour policies and systems to facilitate migration commensurate with labour needs, the increased use of data by decision-makers, and lower costs for would-be migrant workers will be key to realising the vision of Thailand 4.0,” he said.

Written by: Kas Chanwanpen
Source: The Nation
Published on: 17 May 2018

Migrant labour cap piques businesses in Thailand

Migrant labour cap piques businesses

Business operators are crying foul over a new law that caps the share of migrant workers at 20%, saying the regulation poses a “critical obstacle” for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) struggling to cope with labour shortages.

The Act on the management of migrant labour will cap their employment at 20% of a company’s workforce, effective from July 1 onward.

The law was passed by the National Legislative Assembly in April, and will cover all migrant labourers, regardless of whether they are hired in Thailand, according to the government’s memorandum of understanding.

Supant Mongkolsuthree, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI), said the private sector does not understand why the government has to regulate the share of migrant workers in each company, because there has been a labour shortage for several years.

Low-skilled immigrant workers are “vital contributors” to the country’s economy, said Mr Supant.

“The labour shortage is widespread across the country, pressuring operators to hire migrant workers from neighbouring countries,” he said.

Mr Supant said local SMEs will be most affected by the labour shortage.

There are 3 million SMEs in the country, accounting for 99.7% of businesses, and they employ 11 million people.

SMEs are estimated to hire roughly 10 million migrant workers, both legally and illegally.

“It is very hard for SMEs to seek local labour because most jobs require physical labour, such as waiters, cleaners, construction workers and fishery workers, and migrant workers accept these jobs,” he said.

“The employment cap at 20% will force SMEs to hardships and it is impossible to cap the proportion of migrant workers in the SME sector.”

Mr Supant said large companies will suffer less from this law because they hire roughly 3-4 million migrant workers in total.

Moreover, large companies can invest further on automation and robotics.

However, the FTI called for the Labour Ministry to reconsider this new Act and proposed the 20% employment cap be applied to business segments or by job type instead of a generic regulation.

Nonetheless, Supawan Tanomkieatipume, president of Thai Hotels Association (THA), said if the new labour Act is enforced, hotel business will be affected severely, especially small and independent hotels, as well as hotels located near borders that hire many foreigners.

The Act is also expected to hurt many restaurants and small businesses as many use migrant workers.

“The new law will not impact five-star hotels because most workers are local people. But restaurants and food stores will suffer as they depend on migrant labour,” Ms Supawan said.

She said restaurants that hire many foreigners may need to reduce staff to avoid violating the law, but that will be reflected in lower quality service.

In order to protect small- and medium-sized businesses and save registered labourers, THA will soon ask the government to revise the foreign worker cap from 20% to 30% of total staff.

Taniwan Koonmongkon, president of the Thai Restaurant Association (TRA), said the new Act will harm thousands of restaurants across the country and may force them to close their doors, as many restaurants hire foreign workers to make up more than half of their staff.

“We totally disagree with this implementation as it could force some restaurants to close down business,” Ms Taniwan said.

The association estimated that more than 1 million registered foreigners work in restaurants in Thailand. More popular businesses such as som tam and seafood restaurants and food stores mostly use migrants.

“Business owners prefer to use foreign workers, giving them work permits and the same social welfare same as locals. They cannot find Thais to work such jobs,” she said.

TRA urged the government to encourage locals to work in restaurants.

Daecha Tangsin, owner of the 525-room Ramada Plaza Menam Riverside Bangkok Hotel, said the negative impact from the new law will be larger for hotels in tourist destinations.

“Foreign labourers working at hotels in Bangkok are lower in proportion than those in major tourist destinations, like Phuket, where up to half of staff are foreign,” he said.

His hotel will see minimal impact from this new law as it uses fewer foreign labourers and also outsources hiring to other companies.

Suphin Mechuchep, managing director of property consultant JLL Thailand, said the impact from the new law would be large for the construction industry as it depends largely on foreign labourers.

Written by: Kanana Katharangsiporn

Source: Bangkok Post

Published on: 8 May 2018

Prayut visits Samut Sakhon, Phetchaburi

Prayut visits Samut Sakhon, Phetchaburi

Prime minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha and his cabinet ministers flew in helicopters to visit Samut Sakhon and Phetchaburi provinces.

The visit was one day ahead of his scheduled mobile cabinet meeting tomorrow aimed at discussing fishery industry and problems relevant to labour, mostly migrant workers in the fishing industry.

In the morning, the prime minister visited the Labour Rights Promotion Network which is taking care of social welfare activities of migrant workers.

The foundation serves as a centre to provide consultant service to migrant workers on legal affairs, and their rights.

During the meeting with migrant workers in Samut Sakhon, the prime minister asked them to respect Thai laws, and to love Thailand as it is the country which provided them jobs.

He said that as the government was trying to resolve human trafficking, illegal working, it needed cooperation not only from state officials, employees , but also from migrant workers.

The prime minister pledged to deal drastically with state officials involved in human trafficking, as well as Thai employers if they wouldn’t cooperate with the government on the issue.

Gen Prayut also talked to children of the migrant workers and their teachers.

He encouraged teachers to promote public awareness, merits and to create a peaceful community so as to prevent rifts.

In the afternoon, the prime minister will proceed to Phetchaburi to follow up several projects on water management and farming.

Source: Thai PBS

Date: 5 March 2018

Punishments to be reduced in migrant decree (Thailand)

Punishments to be reduced in migrant decree

The cabinet will consider reducing the punishments under the foreign labour decree before it is sent to the National Legislative Assembly for enactment.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam submitted the decree for consideration on Monday. If approved, it will be sent to the National Legislative Assembly for enactment.

Government spokesman Lt Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd said the cabinet found two points in the bill needed to be changed.

First, the punishments are found to be too heavy and disproportionate in some cases since they are based on human trafficking offences. Misuse of labour should not result in the same penalties as human trafficking, he said.

Second, under the old law, migrant workers must stay in the same areas as their workplaces but the decree scraps it.

While an executive decree may be issued by a government in case of emergencies, it still needs to be enacted later by lawmakers before it becomes a law.

Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha issued the executive decree on migrant workers effective on June 23, with heavy fines on employers who hire illegal labourers.

It triggered an exodus of workers and a sudden labour shortage in many industries as many operators suddenly stopped hiring them, prompting the government to allow a relaxation period.

Under the decree, an employer who hires migrants for jobs prohibited to foreigners, or hires migrants without work permits or with inconsistent work permits will face a fine of 400,000 to 800,000 baht per worker.

Those who assigned migrant workers to do jobs different from what is specified in their work permits will face a fine of 400,000 baht per worker.

Migrant workers who work without a permit or do prohibited jobs will face a jail term up to five years and/or a fine of 2,000-100,000 baht. Those who take different jobs than what was specified in their work permits will be fined up to 100,000 baht.

Xinhua reported on Monday a total of 155,169 undocumented Myanmar migrant workers returned home from Thailand between June 29 to Dec 3, citing a release of Myanmar’s Home Ministry.

Of the total, 66,980 were women, according to the report.

About 4 million legal and 1 million illegal Myanmar workers are reportedly staying in Thailand.

In a bid to solve the problem of undocumented Myanmar migrant workers who are returning home out of fear of the new labour law, authorities of the two countries negotiated on issuing official documents to the workers, the authorities said.

Source: Bangkok Post

Writer: Online Reporters

Date: 4 December 2017

Centres open for Cambodian workers

Three nationality verification centres for Cambodian workers are now open in Thailand.

Employment Department director-general Varanon Peetiwan said on Wednesday that one of the centres was located in Imperial World Lat Phrao in Bangkok, another in Mayong OTOP in Rayong province, and the third in Fuk Thian Market in Songkhla.

He advised Cambodian workers, especially those whose work permits expire on November 1, to contact one of these centres quickly.

Each Cambodian worker will have to pay Bt4,400 at the Rayong and Songkhla centres: Bt2,350 for travel documents, Bt500 for a visa, Bt500 for health insurance, and Bt550 for a work permit. At the Bangkok centres, they only have to pay for travel documents with other fees to be paid to relevant officials in the province where they work.

“If you need more information, call the hotline on 1694,” Varanon said.

According to him, more than 200,000 Cambodians in Thailand will need to contact the centres to process their work permits.

By: The Nation

Published on: 18 October 2017

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