Category Archives: Domestic Workers

Domestic Workers from Myanmar Overworked in Thailand

In Thailand, thousands of unregistered domestic workers from Myanmar face daily abuse at the hands of their employees. But now, as Myanmar opens to reform, changes are coming slowly. Is it enough to draw back a future work force? Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.

For the full report, please see the links below:

By: Steve Sandford, Voice of America

Published on: 22 March 2016

Asean worker influx stirs fear of ‘diseases returning’

Health officials warn that foreign maids and workers could bring leprosy, elephantiasis, etc

THE SOARING labour migration in the region following the implementation of the Asean Economic Community may increase the risks of people contracting many diseases in Thailand including leprosy, the Disease Control Department has warned.

If migrant babysitters and elderly caretakers come from neighbouring nations and have leprosy, there is a real risk the disease will be spread to the those under their care, department specialist Dr Krisada Mahotan said yesterday.

Krisada highlighted those jobs because they would involve very close contact between disease sufferers and Thais over a long period.

Medical experts from various fields came together yesterday to warn that there were no boundaries for pathogens.

“We are worried that the establishment of the AEC will push up the number of leprosy patients on Thai soil,” Dermatological Society of Thailand president Noppadon Noppakun said.

Leprosy is a contagious disease that affects the skin, mucous membranes and nerves, causing discoloration and lumps on the skin and, in severe cases, disfigurement and deformities.

Thousands of Thais were once infected with the disease each year but health authorities have successfully controlled its spread in recent decades. Last year, 187 were found to have contracted leprosy.

“Of that number, 39 were migrant workers,” Krisada said.

But the number of leprosy cases reported in Myanmar reached 2,950 last year.

“This means when more people cross borders, there will be a higher risk of leprosy in Thailand,” Krisada said.

He advised employers to be on the lookout for workers with skin conditions.

He said if a worker was suspected of having leprosy, the employer should bring them to a doctor for treatment.

“Don’t fire him or her. Treatments can cure the symptoms and prevent the spread of the disease,” he said.

Noppadon said the risk of elephantiasis, Leishmaniasis and sexually-transmitted diseases could also become more common after the AEC’s implementation.

Dr Rattiya Techakajornkiat, a medical specialist on STDs and epidemiology, said statistics between 2011 and 2014 suggested there had been an increasing number of Thailand-based Cambodian, Myanmar and Laotian workers with syphilis, gonorrhoea and chlamydia.

Asst Prof Dr Jittima Dhitavat from Mahidol University warned Thais to take precautions against Leishmaniasis and elephantiasis.

“Leishmaniasis is no longer a disease only affecting Thais who travelled overseas for work or leisure trips,” she said. “Now, the disease affects even those who have always been in Thailand because of the growing number of migrants.”

She said illegal migrant workers usually did not undergo blood tests and might sneak into the country with elephantiasis.

“Mosquitoes are the carriers of elephantiasis,” she said.

Jittima recommended applying mosquito-repellent cream to the skin and using mosquito nets at home.

By: Puangchompoo Prasert, The Nation
Published: 26 March 2016


Chant for domestic workers’ rights at the AP regional preparatory meeting for HLD, Bangkok, 29-31 May 2013

Ms Jackie Pollock has attended on behalf of Mekong Migration Network the Asia Pacific regional preparatory meeting for the High Level Dialogue on Migration and Development, which was held on 29-31 May 2013 in Bangkok. During the meeting, a side event was organised to promote domestic workers’ rights and to promote ratification of the ILO Convention 189. Led by Ms Jackie Pollock and also MMN advocacy convenor Ms Pranom Somwong, migrant advocates rapped the ASEAN Chant.

Please find below the link to the video (which was sent by the UN Women) and feel free to circulate.

Chant for Domestic Workers’ Rights led by MMN


Despite ban by the law, domestic workers still go abroad, Eleven Myanmar

Even though the government forbid sending domestic workers to foreign countries, more and more of Myanmar women are going abroad as domestic workers via illegal job agencies.

“There are illegal agencies sending domestic workers to abroad. They not just send domestic workers but also any kinds of workers to abroad. There are a lot of illegal Myanmar domestic workers in various countries,” informed an identified officer from Labor Ministry.

He also added that it is difficult to punish the agencies unless a victim reports the incident.

“It does not matter if they go legally or not, we (the ministry) have to solve any problem they face while abroad. They should know if they are staying legally. We cannot enforce any punishment upon the agencies if there is no report,” he explained.

Even though the number of illegal job agencies has recently dropped, workers are still being sent to foreign countries illegally.

Most of the domestic workers are sent to Singapore and Thailand. The official explained that some of the workers go abroad with visit visa but start working once arrived.

The government confirmed that no domestic workers are legally allowed and it will stay the same in the future.

By Eleven Myanmar
Published on 23 March 2013

New rules give maids days off, paid leave, Bangkok Post

More than 4 million household maids nationwide will be entitled to at least one day off a week thanks to new regulations aimed at improving their working conditions. The amended ministerial regulations took effect on Friday.Labour Minister Padermchai Sasomsap signed an amendment to the ministerial regulation on Oct 30 to improve the protection of domestic workers’ rights.

Under the new regulation, domestic workers are entitled to at least one day off each week, plus 13 traditional paid holidays a year, six days of paid annual leave after one year of employment, and three days of paid sick leave a year.

The new rules also require employers to pay wages directly to maids who are younger than 18.

Employers are prohibited from paying workers’ wages to third parties including job brokers.

Pakorn Amorncheewin, director-general of the Labour Protection and Welfare Department, yesterday warned that employers would be fined up to 20,000 baht if they failed to give their maids at least one day off each week or did not pay them during sick leave.

Employers could face a jail term of six months and/or a fine of 100,000 baht if they failed to pay wages to their maids who worked on official holidays.

The new rules will not work without enforcement, said a human rights advocate, who has voiced concern about a lack of public information and protection for domestic workers’ rights.

Surapong Kongchantuk, of the Lawyers Council of Thailand’s human rights subcommittee, said although the Labour Ministry has amended its regulations to improve the rights of domestic workers, the public _ particularly employers and their maids _ were left in the dark.

He said no amendments were made to several key issues related to domestic workers’ rights, including their working hours and wages.

Unlike other workers in the formal sector, household maids’ minimum daily wages have not been protected, he said.

Mr Surapong said domestic workers receive wages lower than the minimum rate set by the government.

By Bangkok Post
Published on 14 November 2012

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