Category Archives: Thailand

[Taiwan] Talks on migrant workers ongoing

Taiwan is in talks with countries that supply migrant workers following an announcement in April that it would allow dairy farms to hire migrant workers on a trial basis.

The move is part of an effort to help address the country’s farm labor shortage, Minister of Labor Hsu Ming-chun (許銘春) said.

Hsu said last week that the Ministry of Labor launched the trial program to allow Taiwanese dairy farms to employ foreign workers from developing economies.

No workers have arrived in Taiwan yet because their employment contracts have not been verified by their home countries.

Hsu said that representatives from Thailand and Indonesia have made fact-finding visits to Taiwan to gain an understanding of Taiwan’s employment of agricultural workers.

According to the ministry, to protect migrant workers’ rights, their home countries require their employment contracts to be verified before allowing their workers to be employed abroad.

To date, Thailand has begun the process of contract verification, while Indonesia has agreed to allow its workers to take up employment in Taiwan’s agricultural sector and has given a sample employment contract to be reviewed by the ministry.

Taiwan has also reached a consensus with the Philippines on the employment of migrant farm workers, with the details still being discussed, the ministry said.

The ministry is also in talks with Vietnam on these matters, it added.

Taiwan currently has more than 700,000 migrant workers, ministry data showed.

Source: Taipei Times
Published on 12 November 2019
Link: http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2019/11/12/2003725690

[Korea] Lingo class urged for Thai expat workers

The Labour Ministry wants those seeking job opportunities in South Korea to take advantage of free language classes in a bid to cut down on Thais working illegally in the country.

Pairoj Chotikasatien, deputy director-general of the Department of Employment at the ministry told the Bangkok Post that better Korean language skills can reduce the number of illegal labourers, or “Phi Noi” (“little ghosts”), in the country.

“The problem started after the South Korean government began requiring foreign workers to pass a language proficiency test. Only 25% of Thai labourers could pass, which lead many of those who failed to become Phi Noi instead,” said Mr Pairoj.

According to the Ministry of Labour, as many as 170,00 Thais are believed to be working illegally in South Korea; however, each year only 6,000 Thai workers take the Korean language proficiency test to apply for work permits.

The ministry plans to help workers improve their skills in a number of languages of countries that have agreements on migrant labour with Thailand.

These nations, which include South Korea and Japan, said Mr Pairoj, will help out the workers financially on condition that the Thai government complies with local regulations.

For example, South Korea requires foreign workers aged between 18-39 years old to pass certain levels of literacy in its language before they are eligible for its “EPS: Employment Permit System”.

He explained that even though the department has offered language courses for free in the past, Thai workers often chose pricey but quick courses which promised shortcuts to pass the exam but did not necessarily impart a strong grasp of the local lingo.

However, he admitted the Phi Noi problem goes beyond language skills.

Korean employers often prefer muscular Thai men who may not pass the language test, or females who came into the country as tourists who they can employ more cheaply, said Mr Pairoj.

He was quoting information from South Korea’s Ministry of Employment and Labour.

Written by Penchan Choroensuthipan
Source: Bangkok Post
Published on 11 November 2019
Link: https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/1791559/lingo-class-urged-for-thai-expat-workers

Myanmar Labor Attaché in Thailand Charged with Corruption

Yangon – Myanmar labor attaché U San Maung Oo, who represented migrants in Thailand, has been charged by the Anti-Corruption Commission of Myanmar (ACC) over claims he took thousands of bribes.

The labor attaché has been accused of asking for about 4.4 million Thai baht (US$144,000, 220.16 million kyats) from 28 overseas employment agencies in exchange for approving labor demand letters and for sending workers to recruitment agencies.

The ACC said it interviewed witnesses and studied documents and bank accounts in Myanmar and Thailand.

U San Maung Oo was found to have abused his power and asked for bribes from recruitment agencies, said the ACC.

He worked at the labor office in Bangkok from December 2017 until August this year.

The ACC also said U San Maung Oo collected 100 baht from agencies for each worker and also took bribes from the employment agencies through his assistants, U Than Htike Soe and U Saw Pyae Nyein.

The commission filed a lawsuit with North Dagon police in Yangon against U San Maung Oo under Article 46 of the Anti-Corruption Act. U Than Htike Soe and U Saw Pyae Nyein were charged under the same law.

More than 20 overseas employment agencies reported U San Maung Oo to the ACC, the President’s Office, the Ministry of Labor, Immigration and Population, and the Parliamentary Committee on Labor Affairs.

U Kyaw Htwe, the committee chair, told the media in June that a bribery case was being launched.

The employment agencies told the media in May that the Bangkok-based labor office would delay documentation for workers until it paid bribes.

U San Maung Oo told the media in June that he had already explained the situation to investigators and he was ready to accept any official inspection as a government employee.

While he was at the office, up to 20,000 workers from Myanmar were recruited by agencies for Thailand per month.

Written by Zaw Zaw Htwe
Source: The Irrawaddy
Published on 7November 2019
Link: https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/myanmar-labor-attache-thailand-charged-corruption.html

[Thai] Govt urged to aid stranded Thai fishermen

More than 100 undocumented fishing-boat workers from Thailand and neighbouring countries remain stranded on remote Indonesian islands, according to the Labour Rights Promotion Network (LPN).

Labour activist and LPN manager Patima Tungpuchayakul said a recent rescue operation conducted by the LPN found at least 54 fishermen from Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos still abandoned on Tuan Island in Indonesia.

Of the 54 workers, eight are Thai, 44 are from Myanmar, one is Cambodian and one is Lao.

All of them are living under harsh conditions and want to return home as soon as possible, Ms Patima said on Tuesday.

Ms Patima was speaking at a press conference on the LPN’s latest attempts to rescue fishermen marooned on Indonesian islands.

The eight Thai nationals were identified as Satit Northong from Samut Prakan, Somchai Duangmuen from Samut Sakhon, Rat Uttapan from Si Sa Ket, Seree Champathong from Roi Et, Panya Nongnuch from Phetchabun, Paithoon Klinsakul from Suphan Buri, Vichien Sapprasert from Nakhon Ratchasima and Somyon (no surname given) from Nakhon Ratchasima.

Ms Patima said the fishermen are waiting for the Thai embassy to verify their identities, since their documents were kept by boat owners who abandoned them years ago when Indonesia cracked down on illegal fishing in its waters.

Over the past five years, LPN has urged state agencies to help bring back Thai workers from Tuan, Batam and Benjina islands in Indonesia, said Ms Patima.

Batam Island hosts more than 50 undocumented Thai, Myanmar and Cambodian workers, said the network.

“These people are living difficult lives, forced to move from one place to another because of their illegal migrant status,” she said, adding they have to do whatever job they can find to earn money to survive.

Many of these workers died due to harsh living conditions before they got the chance to return to their families, and were buried on the islands, Ms Patima said.

Ms Patima said even though the LPN has rescued nearly 3,000 Thai workers from Indonesia, it still receives distress calls from many fishing-fleet workers still stranded there.

“The government should come up with a clear policy on how it can help them,” she said.

Written by Penchan Charoensuthipan
Source: Bangkok Post
Published on 6 November 2019
Link: https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/1788034/govt-urged-to-aid-stranded-thai-fishermen

Protecting Asean’s most vulnerable

The risks are high for migrants who leave home in search of a better future for their families, but nothing can stem the tide of the exodus.

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) reports that the number of migrant workers in Thailand rose to 4.9 million in 2018, which includes around 3.9 million from Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Among these are an estimated 300,000-400,000 migrant children.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). All Asean members have ratified the international treaty, which upholds children’s rights to survival, protection, development, and social participation.

Leaders at this weekend’s 35th Asean Summit will adopt the Asean Declaration on the Rights of Children in the Context of Migration, according to the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security.

As Bangkok gears up for the historic forum, experts are urging Thailand, as current chair of Asean, to curb child migration amid concerns over human trafficking.

IN SEARCH OF BETTER LIVES

Premjai Vungsiriphisal, a senior researcher at Chulalongkorn University’s Asian Research Centre for Migration, attributes the influx of migrant children from Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos to socio-economic deprivation.

“For example, the Rong Kluea border market in Sa Kaeo’s Aranyaprathet district sees a large number of children doing jobs to support their families. From the Western perspective, child labour is unacceptable. However, the children must work to escape poverty. If authorities launch a new crackdown, what are these children going to do? There should be alternatives to law enforcement, such as raising awareness and providing development opportunities for kids,” she told the Bangkok Post.

Ms Premjai said migrant children in Thailand and other countries find doors through which they can escape poverty.

“Myanmar and Cambodia are developing rapidly, which creates a lot of [job] opportunities in urban areas. However, workers have to pay higher living expenses and compete with other job-seekers in cities. It is very difficult for children to find their feet.

“In Thailand, they earn higher incomes and have more opportunities, such as free education. Do you know that a lot of migrant children cross the border to go to our schools each day? If they have relatives here, they can stay with them overnight,” she said.

However, Ms Premjai warned that migrant children are at risk of being exploited.

“They can be forced into prostitution. Traffickers often lure these innocent girls into believing they will work in restaurants. In these cases, we can take legal action because they become victims of human trafficking.

“However, the problem is that some are willing to become sex workers. I interviewed 15-year-old migrant girls rescued from karaoke brothels a few years ago. When I questioned them, they said they knew what they had to do before starting the job. What should we do if it is their choice [to enter the sex trade]?” she asked.

Ms Premjai wants Thailand and other Asean countries to improve border controls in an effort to end human trafficking. “Border checkpoints can screen and repatriate migrant children. However, there are other secret channels [for human trafficking]. If Asean joined hands to develop child welfare among its members, it would help reduce the number of illegal migrants in the region,” she added.

Meanwhile, Wanchai Roujanavong, chair of the Asean Commission on Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children, said verification of migrants remains a challenge.

“It is very difficult to screen them because they don’t have identity cards. They can lie about their ages to get jobs. In some cases, they bribe local authorities to forge birth certificates for passport application,” he said, citing the arrests of underaged migrant workers at massage parlours.

Mr Wanchai also proposed that Asean members uphold a single standard for detention of illegal migrants and their children. “Thailand has already changed its practice. Migrant children are now kept in separate shelters while awaiting repatriation,” he said.

Thientong Prasanpanich, director of Children and Youth System Development at the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, said Thailand is beefing up cross-border collaboration with neighbouring countries.

“Although Asean members adopted the CRC, they implement policies and laws on child migration differently. Hence, it is difficult for home and host countries to work together. However, we are making progress this year. For instance, Myanmar is showing strong commitment to boosting coordination with us,” she said.

CITIZENS OF ASEAN

Ms Thientong admitted that Thailand is facing difficulty ensuring that all migrant children can access public services, especially education and health care.

“Thailand’s education-for-all policy welcomes migrant children. However, illegal migrant parents fear that if they enrol their children in school, they will be prosecuted for sneaking into the country. Therefore, many kids remain out of school,” she said.

Last year, Thailand’s IOM Mission estimated that more than 164,000 migrant children are enrolled in school, while around 200,000 get no formal education.

“Thais are entitled to the 30-baht health scheme because they pay tax. Migrant workers are required to purchase their own healthcare package, which covers their children,” she said.

When asked about other categories of children on the move, Ms Thientong said Thailand still has a reservation to Article 22 of the CRC relating to rights of child refugees and asylum seekers. “We cannot remove the reservation because we don’t have a law on the status of refugees.”

However, Thailand’s treatment of migrant children has improved since it adopted the CRC in 1992, she added.”The immigration law regards them as innocent even though their parents migrate to Thailand illegally…. The child protection act ensures protection for Thai and non-Thai children while the civil registration act offers registration of birth to anyone born in Thailand.”

Ms Thientong reaffirmed the government’s commitment to promoting all children’s rights to public services. “Migrant workers are a driving force of the bloc’s economy. It is impossible to ignore their children’s living conditions. Most importantly, we see them as citizens of Asean,” she said.

Written by Thana Boonlert
Source: Bangkok Post
Published on 2 November 2019
Link:https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/1785419/protecting-aseans-most-vulnerable

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