Category Archives: Migration

[Malaysia] Laws to be amended to enhance protection for domestic workers

PUTRAJAYA: The human resources ministry will tighten the Employment Act 1955 to better protect domestic workers and prevent workplace discrimination, its minister said.

“We are also looking at an Act by itself for maids,” M Kula Segaran told the media in a special interview at his office ahead of Pakatan Harapan’s first anniversary in power.

“We are going to put in the regulations now, then we are going to have a standalone Act for maids,” he said.

This follows a recent court decision to free the employer of Indonesian domestic helper Adelina Lisao, who died last year of injuries suffered during her employment.

Adelina was found with pus-filled hands and legs and could barely walk. She was also allegedly forced to sleep on the porch with a dog.

The employer, Ambika Shan, 61, had been charged with murder but was granted a full acquittal by the High Court last week after the prosecution requested a discharge not amounting to an acquittal.

Her acquittal sparked a backlash from local civic groups as well as Indonesia, which said Ambika’s release meant Adelina had been denied justice.

Asked when this particular Act would see the light of day, the Ipoh Barat MP said: “That one (an Act for maids’ rights) is already in the bigger picture. The big picture is there.”

Asked for specifics, Kula Segaran said: “We don’t want to go into the mechanics but there will be a lot of safeguards for the maids.”

He also said this proposed Act would be discussed alongside relevant stakeholders, ministry officials, the Welfare Department and “other ministries who have got something to say about it”.

This is part of proposed amendments to seven Acts relating to labour rights which are scheduled to be tabled in the Dewan Rakyat meeting in July.

Kula Segaran said his “greatest sadness” was not being able to move the amendments to these Acts in the previous meeting of Parliament. This was because it was not easy getting relevant stakeholders’ feedback.

The DAP leader also said two more laws would be tabled in Parliament soon, one related to providing Social Security Organisation (Socso) benefits for the 1.4 million housewives.

He did not mention what the other was.

On proposed regulations for workers living with HIV/AIDS, Kula Segaran, who once said his ministry was discussing laws that would prohibit discrimination against such workers, said: “I think the present law is good enough.”

“The normal regulations apply in the sense, once you are employed, you get all the protection,” he said, adding that action would be taken by his ministry when cases of discrimination were carried out.

Kula Segaran had said in November it was important to “initiate plans” to “mitigate problems at the workplace so that such discrimination (with regards to one’s HIV/AIDS status) can be eliminated”.

One proposal that is difficult to implement now is reducing dependency on foreign labour. Kula Segaran said some industries required a larger labour force that had yet to be filled by locals.

He also said efforts were being made to see how those 60 and above could return to work.

Written by Vinodh Pillai
Source: FMT News
Published on 23 April 2019

Govt told not to deport Myanmar-Muslim workers

Govt told not to deport Myanmar-Muslim workers

THE PRESIDENT of the Songkhla Fishing Association yesterday called on the labour minister to find a way to prevent 370 Myanmar-Muslim workers from being deported.

Suradej Nil-ubol, president of the fishing association, said the 370 workers have been registered with the government and also hold a “sea book”, which allows them to work on Thai fishing boats.

They are capable members of the crew, but will be deported by the end of September, as they have no passports, he said.

The Myanmar authorities staffing the One Stop Service in Songkhla refused to issue passports for these workers because they are Muslim, Suradej said. The officials cited a Myanmar policy, which does not allow Muslims to hold a passport, he added.

Under the Thai law, all documented migrants must have their nationality verified and must hold a passport, so the 370 fishermen will be sent back home to get passports before they can return to work, Suradej explained. This would be a great loss for the Songkhla fishing industry, because it is suffering from a severe staff shortage, he said.

“I plead with the government to find a solution, so this group of workers can continue working in Thailand,” Suradej said.

Source: The Nation
Published on:  August 23, 2018

NGO, embassy help bring Cambodian migrants home

NGO, embassy help bring migrants home

Four Cambodian migrant workers, who went unpaid at a Malaysian tyre factory, and a 1-year-old girl were brought home from Malaysia on Monday by NGO Central with help from the Cambodian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur and the Cambodian Migrant Workers Network, according a representative of the NGO.

Speaking to The Post on Monday, Dy The Hoya, project officer for labour rights organisation Central, said the family unit included a man and his wife, and an infant daughter born in Malaysia.

“The victims came from Preah Vihear province. They are a couple and two brothers, and they went to work in Malaysia at different periods. The husband and wife went to Malaysia four years ago, while the two other men had been working in Malaysia for just over a year,” The Hoya said.

The Hoya said that the victims had been swindled by a broker from Tbong Khmum province.

“They arrived in Malaysia on a tourist visa. They were persuaded to go to the country with promises of high-paying jobs by a broker from Tbong Khmum. Unfortunately, they do not know the name of the broker, but they do have a photograph of him,” The Hoya said.

He explained that the family, after not being paid for months, reached out to a Malaysia-based Cambodian migrant-assistance organisation, which in turn sought Central’s help.

“The family got in touch with the Cambodian Migrant Workers Network, who asked us to help rescue them and help them return to Cambodia. We went to the victims’ families in Preah Vihear, helped them write out a letter seeking government assistance and submitted it to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who then contacted the embassy in Malaysia. During this two-month period the family was living in the embassy before they were returned home,” The Hoya said.

He added that the NGO will continue to assist the family.

“We will help the victims to file a complaint at the National Anti-Human Trafficking Committee, and the committee will search for the suspect – but it’s difficult as they don’t have the name or identity of the suspect. Central will provide legal aid and a lawyer,” The Hoya said.


Written by: Yon Sineat

Source: The Phnom Penh Post

Published on: 22 May 2018

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

Female migrants hidden impetus behind economy

Female migrants hidden impetus behind economy

We live in a world of unprecedented mobility with an estimated 258 million international migrants globally. Women and girls represent almost half of that number. All of them want better lives and are full of hopes, ideas and aspirations. This week marks International Women’s Day. It is a time for the global community to reflect on progress made towards empowering female migrants and protecting their rights.

Female migration is nothing new. Across the globe, women have been on the move for as long as men have. What has changed over recent decades is the proportion of women in the migrant workforce, their motivations to migrate, and the role they play in the global economy – trends broadly described as the “feminisation of migration”.

These trends are particularly evident in Southeast Asia, where migration was male-dominated up to the 1980s. Today, women account for 48% of the 9.87 million migrants in the region, and their prominence is increasing by the day.

Traditionally, women in the region migrated by association – often for marriage, family reunification or to accompany a spouse migrating for work. This continues to be case in Thailand, where many migrant women from Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia follow their husbands to work alongside them in agriculture, construction sites and factories.

But the rising number of women who now migrate independently suggests that this is changing. For millions of women today, migrating for work is now an attractive option. It provides an opportunity to advance socially, economically, and professionally; to improve the lives of families back home; and to obtain empowerment and autonomy.

The contributions of these women must not be discounted. For countries of origin, female migrants are an important source of remittances. We now know that migrant women, despite earning less, send a greater portion of their income home more frequently and over longer periods of time than their male counterparts. These funds often support entire families and are an effective means of poverty reduction.

For the host countries such as Thailand, migrant women now fill major gaps in the labour market. In some sectors, the participation of migrant women is staggeringly high. The construction industry, for example, employs over 200,000 women – almost 40% of all migrant construction workers. Migrant women also fill huge numbers of jobs perceived as “low status”, including domestic work, caregiving, hospitality and nursing. While often shunned by locals, these jobs are crucial and demand for workers in these sectors will increase as the population ages.

Yet despite the important roles they play, migrant women continue to be undervalued by society. Even though they work equally hard and perform most tasks as well as men (hard physical labour being the notable exception), many continue to be paid less and have less access to training and careers. This is despite labour laws that clearly stipulate that men and women should receive equal pay for equal work in Thailand, as in many other countries.

Migrant women also tend to be relegated to gender-specific job categories in industries that are less regulated. These include domestic work and entertainment, where wages are low and protection is minimal, leaving many vulnerable to exploitation. Far too often we read horror stories of domestic workers forced to work excessive hours, denied days off, subjected to physical and mental abuse, and, in extreme cases, assaulted, sometimes fatally, by their employers.

The reality for female migrants is that their gender dramatically influences their migratory experience at every stage. Many are confounded by unique challenges, from unscrupulous brokers looking to mislead and cheat them before they leave the country, to gender-based violence during transit, to abusive labour practices and lack of access to social services in countries of destination.

Even in skilled professions, migrant women often find themselves structurally disadvantaged, doing jobs for which they are over-qualified due to discrimination from employers who view them as “less capable. We therefore need to recognise that such inequalities exist and work towards gender-sensitive responses that empower women and lessen their vulnerabilities. These include promoting safer migration for women, better regulation of their recruitment and deployment, and the introduction of policies that encourage their participation in all sectors of the economy.

Public awareness is also key in combatting the stigma attached to female migration. Protecting a woman’s rights and upholding them is not solely the responsibility of governments, international organisations or non-governmental organisations. It also is the responsibility of individuals who can be empowered to promote a culture of tolerance, respect and human dignity.

As we work towards the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, it is important to recognise the role that gender plays in the lives of migrants. The situation of female migrants demands our attention and should be at the forefront of global efforts to tackle inequality. We must make every effort to ensure that their voices are heard.

Written by: Dana Graber Ladek

Source: Bangkok Post

Published on: 9 March 2018

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