Category Archives: Thailand

Thailand seeks return of Myanmar workforce

Thailand is preparing to welcome back Myanmar migrant workers who left the kingdom after losing their jobs due to the COVID-19 outbreak, according to an employment agency group.

U Peter Nyunt Maung, deputy chair of the Myanmar Overseas Employment Agencies Federation, said the Thai and Myanmar governments and employment agencies are negotiating healthcare coverage for the workers.

Under Thai regulations, foreigners must have at least US$100,000 (K138.1 million) in health insurance to cover the cost of any COVID-19 treatment. The workers must also be quarantined for 14 days at their own expense in Thailand.

“Before, we processed from 500 to 1000 employment contracts for Thailand,” he said. “Now we will accept only about 250, due to COVID-19.”

No new employment contracts are available for Malaysia, but employment agencies expect Japan to increase its demand for workers from Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar, as they have low COVID-19 infection rates.

The government said that from December 2019 to March 2020, Myanmar was still able to send about 100,000 workers to Thailand, Malaysia, Japan and South Korea.

Over 71,000 Myanmar workers had returned from Thailand as of June 21, according to the government.

More than 4 million Myanmar nationals have sought jobs abroad, mostly in Thailand. Last year, over 305,000 people left Myanmar for work, and an estimated 2.3 million Myanmar people work in the kingdom.

Myanmar workers sent home an estimated US$910 million in 2018, accounting for about 1.06 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

Written by Tint Zaw Tun
Source: Myanmar Times
Published on 25 June 2020

Thousands of Jobless Lao Workers Return Home From Thailand in Last Two Months

As many as 3,000 Lao workers have returned home during the last two months, crossing the border from Thailand after losing their jobs amid business shut-downs due to coronavirus fears, sources in Laos say.

Hundreds of thousands of the 2.8 million foreign workers in Thailand returned to neighboring countries Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia after losing their jobs when their employers ran into economic hardships as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to NGOs and governments.

Laos continues to see migrant workers return home, the flow slowed by restrictions imposed to fight the pandemic, in addition to the more than 200,000 who’ve already returned from Thailand.

“In the last two months there have been from 2,000 to 3,000 returnees. We don’t know the exact number,” an official at the Labor and Social Welfare Department in the capital Vientiane told RFA’s Lao Service this week.

“After returning from Thailand, some of the Lao workers have come into the capital, and some have gone to other provinces,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“They’re coming back because of the COVID-19 pandemic, factory closures, and unemployment,” he added.

Thailand, which has reported fewer than 3,200 cases overall with 58 deaths, has started to open cautiously after going a month without a confirmed COVID-19 case. But job opportunities, particularly in the tourism and service sectors, are not expected to recover rapidly.

“Many Lao workers have gone home because the shops and stores are still closed,” one worker told RFA on June 23. “Only a few are still open, and those that are open are accepting only two or three workers.”

Waiting for orders

Around 20 Lao workers receive permission each day from the governor of Thailand’s Mukdahan province to cross the border to return home, a Thai official at the Second Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge border checkpoint said.

“But for travelers coming in [to Thailand], this border gate is not open yet. We’re waiting for an order from the government,” he said.

A Lao labor official in Savannakhet province meanwhile said that up to 600 Lao workers have already returned from Thailand so far in June.

“Some of the returnees would like to go back to their jobs in Thailand, but in order to go back to Thailand right now they will have to have proper permission and be certified by a doctor to be in good health.”

“They will also have to pay the costs of being quarantined in Thailand by themselves,” he added.

Almost 200,000 Lao workers have now returned home since Thailand opened its border crossings with Laos to let them cross.

Laos’ Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare has meanwhile been registering information about Lao citizens who have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic, the first step in what workers hope will be a government response to help them get through tough times, sources in Laos said last month.

Source: Radio Free Asia
Published on 24 June 2020

ILO stresses protection, reintegration of migrant workers during Covid-19

International Labour Organization (ILO) on Wednesday stressed policies to protect stranded migrant workers and ensure reintegration after their return to home countries.

Due to Covid-19 pandemic, tens of millions of migrant workers are getting laid off and forced to return to their home countries where they are facing unemployment and poverty, it said.

In a meeting held on Wednesday in Geneva ILO discussed the severe impact on millions of migrants’ workers around the world amid the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a statement.

The issues included the assessments of the impact of Covid-19 on migrant workers in Hong Kong, Jordan, Lebanon, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, the Arab states and the ASEAN region, the effects on seasonal workers, refugee workers and other displaced persons and guidance on maximising the benefits to home countries of the returning wave of migrants, recognising skills, ensuring fair recruitment, extending social protection coverage, and finding new jobs or re-migrating safely.

The statement added that as containment measures ease, millions of migrant workers may be required to return home to low and middle income countries where labour markets, which were fragile before the Covid-19 outbreak, are now further weakened by the additional strain of high levels of unemployment and serious business disruptions due to the pandemic.

In addition, their families will suffer financially from the loss of the remittances sent to them.

Meanwhile, other migrant workers have found themselves stranded in host countries without access to social protection and little money for food and accommodation.

Even those with jobs may be taking reduced wages and living in cramped workpalce residences where social distancing is impossible, putting them at greater risk of contracting the virus.

“This is a potential crisis within a crisis,” Manuela Tomei, Director of the ILO’s Conditions of Work and Equality Department said, adding “We know that many millions of migrant workers, who were under lockdown in their countries of work, have lost their jobs and are now expected to return home to countries that are already grappling with weak economies and rising unemployment. Cooperation and planning are key to avert a worse crisis.”

An estimated 164 million migrant workers worldwide, nearly half of them women, comprise 4.7 per cent of the global labour force.

While not all of these workers will return home – after losing their jobs or for other reasons – informal ILO research in more than 20 countries indicated that many millions are expected to do so.

Most of their home countries have very limited scope to reintegrate such large numbers, and often do not have policies and systems in place to ensure effective labour migration governance and smooth reintegration plans, including for skills development and recognition, the statement added.

Governments in Asia and Africa, in particular, expect millions of migrant workers to return, whether through compulsion or voluntarily, as their job prospects evaporate.

A package of ILO briefing and policy documents focusing on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on workers who are migrants, refugees, or forcibly displaced persons, draws attention to the potentially serious social and economic impact if returns occur over a short period of time and if migrants are not included in social protection measures or given help to reintegrate into national labour markets.

The research also showed how returning migrant workers bring skills and talent that can help their home economies rebuild better after the pandemic. However, the key to unlocking this potential is the establishment of rights-based and orderly return and reintegration systems, access to social protection, and proper skills recognition. This can facilitate better skills and jobs matching, so increasing productivity for national industries.

In addition, migrant workers may bring knowledge and capital to open new businesses that can help to improve employment opportunities.

Source: Financial Express
Published on 24 June 2020

‘Recovered’ workers released last month

A total of 19 out of 23 migrants from Myanmar who tested positive for Covid-19 were reportedly released in last month following their quarantine period.

Pol Lt Gen Sompong Chingduang, chief of the immigration bureau, yesterday said the 19 had recovered and were allowed to leave state quarantine.

He made the comment after hearing about news reports saying the 23 tested positive recently after returning from Myanmar, which worried the public.

“These labourers from Myanmar tested positive for Covid-19 and were hospitalised until they were cleared,” Pol Lt Gen Sompong said. “Some of them came from Malaysia, while others worked in Songkhla province.”

He noted they were placed at a state-quarantine facility in Songkhla’s Sadao district.

Pol Lt Gen Sompong said he will order the Immigration Bureau to update him regarding the four other workers from Myanmar.

Aside from Covid-19 fears, Pol Lt Gen Sompong said the Immigration Bureau has arrested 12,223 undocumented migrants who snuck through the border since March.

He said they were migrant labourers who confessed they committed the act because the Thai border has been closed during the lockdown. They reportedly worked as housemaids while others came to look for jobs.

In other news, the Immigration Bureau yesterday said it arrested a member of a gang that smuggled undocumented workers from Myanmar into the kingdom.

He was identified by Pol Lt Gen Sompong as Surat, or Moo, a public van driver in Surat Thani province.

The arrest came after Immigration Police arrested a person suspected of smuggling nine migrant workers from Myanmar and another public van driver in the same province on March 2.

He was identified as Viroj, or Boy, who reportedly confessed he worked for a gang that produces fake passports and smuggles migrant labourers.

Source: Bangkok Post
Published on 24 June 2020

More Thais stranded in Japan return home

Thais stranded in Japan due to the Covid-19 crisis returned home on Tuesday (June 23), the Royal Thai Embassy in Tokyo said on its official Facebook page.

The Thais took Japan Airlines Flight JL 031 that departed Haneda Airport in Tokyo and landed at Suvarnabhumi Airport at 3.40pm.

The returnees must follow the guidelines of the Public Health Ministry and will be on quarantine for 14 days after arrival. The embassy did not reveal the number of Thais on the flight.

The embassy added that the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand has allowed flight JL 031 to pick up stranded Thais in Japan since early this month. The first trip was on June 9. The number of passengers on each trip will depend on the quarantine facilities available in Thailand.

Source: The Nation
Published on 24 June 2020

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