Category Archives: Migration Policy in Thailand

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

Migrant workers fear missing deadline for visas

special report: Bosses complain ‘one stop service’ a myth as many trips needed

Workers from Myanmar queue up to have their nationality verified on Theparak Road in Samut Prakan’s Bang Phli district. (Photo by Sompong Plaipongsa)

Long queues, a slow process and allegations of opportunists seeking money from those who want faster proceedings have marred the citizenship verification process for undocumented migrant workers from Myanmar.

They are racing against time to receive legitimate working status in Thailand by the end of this year.

In June, a new executive decree on foreign workers’ employment sparked fresh panic among undocumented migrant labourers and their employees as it carries more severe punishments against those involved in the illegal hiring of alien workers. The enactment of the decree prompted an exodus of unregistered workers back to their homelands.

In a bid to assuage concerns, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha later invoked Section 44 of the interim charter to suspend the enforcement of some decree sections. This gave a 180-day reprieve to those involved in hiring undocumented migrant workers. The grace period runs until Jan 1.

Scores of unregistered workers from Myanmar were scrambling to have their nationality verified at designated centres so they could apply for proper working visas.

After undergoing this process, handled by Myanmar authorities, they will receive certificates of identity (CI) and other documents.

Then they must undergo a medical check-up, buy health insurance and seek the correct visa and work permit. These steps, which are dealt with by Thai officials, are carried out in the same centres.

A 50-year-old farmer in Chon Buri who goes by the nickname “Ton” recently brought his unregistered migrant workers for medical check-ups at the verification centre in Samut Prakan. He describes it as a frustrating experience.

He said the workers had to stay at the centre from 4am to 8pm to complete the verification process but missed the medical check-ups, which ended at 6pm, and were told to come back later to complete this step.

But when they returned the next day at 4am they were informed their queue numbers were now invalid and sent to the back of the line — meaning they had to wait while another 500 people were processed ahead of them, Ton said. “I’m surprised because we came here so early but new arrivals are still jumping ahead of us. Where were they yesterday while we waited all day?” he said.

The verification centre in Samut Prakan on Theparak Road has been set up inside a warehouse. Applicants had to endure long lines exposed to the searing sun with no shelters visible on the day the Bangkok Post visited. The staff conceded there were some problems with the queuing and ticketing system. Many workers arrived without the correct documents and had to come back the next day and start the whole process over from scratch, they said.

“This is not the one-stop service claimed in the public relations campaign,” said one agent who was shepherding a batch of migrant workers to get their identities verified. “This is the third time we’ve had to bring them here. This time it’s for the the medical check-up. We have to come back a fourth time to actually collect the work permits.”

Another employer said his workers now have to wait until Dec 6 to go through the process again due to various hiccups experienced along the way, prompting concerns they may fail to meet the end-of-year deadline. If that was the case, he would be slapped with a big fine.

A source at the Labour Ministry said reports have emerged that brokers are taking advantage of the verification process and demanding money to help workers jump the long queues. Labour Minister Sirichai Distakul has instructed officials to look into the problems.

Waranon Pitiwan, director-general of the Department of Employment, said the nationality verification centres are handled by authorities from neighbouring countries. He said he was confident no ministry officials were involved in wrongdoing.

More than 700,000 alien workers must be processed before the end of the year. Of this number, 400,000 are from Myanmar. “Everyone wants to get their nationality verified quickly so they can stay here and work for another two years,” Mr Waranon said.

Myanmar authorities are marshalling more staff and equipment to speed things up and help everyone meet the deadline, he said. At present there are six verification centres for workers from Myanmar. Two are in Samut Sakhon and one each in Samut Prakan, Ranong, Tak’s Mae Sot district, and Chiang Rai’s Mae Sai district. Three more centres may be opened, officials said.

According to Mr Waranon, each one can accommodate up to 400 people a day. Queuing problems and fears of missing the deadline have drawn in brokers who demand money to fast-track the process, including filling in forms in both Thai and Burmese. “The government of each country will speed up the process to get them verified in time,” Mr Waranon said. A ministry source said between 800 and 1,000 CIs will be distributed daily once new centres open and more staff are brought in to service them.

By: Penchan Charoensuthipan, Bangkok Post

Published on: 2 October 2017

Bid to reclassify some ‘Thai-only’ jobs

The Ministry of Labour will hold a public hearing on a proposal to review the rules and regulations on 39 jobs currently reserved for Thai nationals.

Waranont Pitiwan, director of the Department of Employment, said most Thais are now not interested in many of these jobs, so foreigners should be allowed to do. The list includes some construction workers, carpenters, waiters, petrol station attendants, fresh-market workers and cashiers.

He said the department will hold a meeting next week, and invite representatives from the construction, restaurant, tourism and other industries, as well as the Board of Trade, to air their views on the suggestion that foreigners be allowed to do these jobs legally.

By: The Nation

Published on: 19 September 2017

Imprisonment ‘should be removed’ from migrant law

Imprisonment should be removed as a penalty from the new migrant law, leaving only fines as a deterrent, a public hearing was told on Thursday.

The forum was held to listen to public opinions on the foreign workers law, which came into effect on June 23.

The participants sought to reduce the fines from 400,000 and 800,000 baht and lift the jail terms altogether for normal employment offences such as working without permits or doing prohibited jobs. The heavy penalties should apply only to human trafficking offences, they said.

For greater transparency, they also want a committee set up to determine the fines, instead of letting the director-general of the Employment Department or provincial governors decide.

The participants from the private sector also proposed that the 39 professions reserved for Thais be reviewed in line with the country’s development plans.

ML Puntarik said in principle the occupations involving traditional Thai knowledge and Thai arts, as well as those governed by professional councils, were reserved for Thais.

Labour Ministry permanent secretary ML Puntarik Smiti said a proposal to amend the law had to be completed in October. The opinions from participants at public hearings will be sent to the Council of State.

Anantachai Uthaipattanacheep said Cambodia would send 360 officials to facilitate the identification of migrant workers in Thailand. They will be stationed at the Cambodian Embassy in Bangkok and at centres in Rayong and Songkhla provinces from Sept 15 to Dec 12.

The government issued on June 23 an executive decree on migrant workers, with heavy fines on employers who hire illegal migrant workers. It triggered an exodus of workers and a sudden labour shortage in many industries as many employers suddenly stopped hiring them, prompting the government to allow a relaxation period.

By: Penchan Charoensuthipan, Bangkok Post

Published on: 7 September 2017

Migrant workers group asks for action against corruption in issuing ID papers

Thailand-based rights group Migrants Workers Rights Network (MWRN) asked the Myanmar Ministry of Labour to take effective action against the corruption linked to the issuing of Certificates of Identity (CI) in the kingdom.

“Our migrants have to pay for more than the real price at CI issuing stations, which are directly operated by Myanmar officials.

“We met with Myanmar’s labour ministry officials to discuss about those shameful cases,” U Aung Kyaw, president of MWRN told The Myanmar Times on Monday.

MWRN’s members met with U Win Shein, director general of the labour department of the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population at Nay Pyi Taw two weeks ago. The group also asked for action against the corruption linked to issuing passports and the exploitation by agencies of workers being sent to Thailand under a program established by a Memorandum of Understanding between the two governments.

According to MWRN, they discussed with ministry officials to prevent workers from being exploited.

Over 400,000 illegal Myanmar migrants, who registered with the Thai government, will have to apply for CI from Myanmar next month.

Activists and Myanmar migrants in Thailand told The Myanmar Times that workers holding pink cards had to pay about 5000 baht (K204,161) to 8000 baht in the processes of applying for CI, Visa or work permits due to the various brokers, agencies and the corruption of some officials.

There are about 700,000 illegal migrants who have already registered with the Thai government during the grace period from July 24 to August 7. before a new strict labour law is enacted.

About 402,000 out of the 700,000 migrants are Myanmar nationals, according to statements from Thailand.

Currently, the Thai government is investigating and verifying the relationship between illegal migrants and their employers.

The illegal migrants who passed the verification process of Thailand would be given the chance to live and work in the country after they applied for CIs, visas and work-permits.

Those who failed to register will have to return to their native countries.

Myanmar migrant worker Ko Maung Maung told The Myanmar Times earlier in August that his employer asked about 8000 baht from workers holding a pink card and asked about 9000 baht from those who do not have the proper documents.

“It is easy to apply for CI here. But, we can’t apply for it since our employer refuses to provide his signed recommendation.

“He told us to use his agents in applying for those documents. He also told us ‘quit the job if you are not satisfied’”, said Ko Maung Maung.

U Aung Kyaw, president of MWRN, said that the two governments have officially estimated 2310 baht as an average overall cost for the illegal migrants who passed the verifying requirements with the Thai government.

This includes the cost of applying for a CI (3120 baht), visa (500 baht), and work permit (1000 baht) as well as a medical check-up (500 baht).

U Aung Kyaw, added that the labour director general U Win Shein ensured that he will look closely into the matter.

The Myanmar Times was unable to get comments from U Win Shein despite several attempts.

U Win Shein told the media on August 18 that they opened about seven CI issuing centers in Thailand, and that they are planning to open more CI issuing centers and mobile centers for illegal Myanmar workers who will have to apply for the CI in September.

By: Zaw Zaw Htwe, the Myanmar Times

Published on: 30 August 2017

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