On 19 December 2019, Mekong Migration Network (MMN), a network of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) advocating for migrants’ rights in the Mekong region, held a multi-stakeholder workshop on Migrant Agricultural Workers in Thailand at the IBIS Riverside hotel in Bangkok, Thailand. Over 40 participants, including migrant workers representatives, Thai government officials from the Ministry of Labour, Cambodian government officials, CSOs from Thailand, Myanmar and Cambodia, the International Labour Organization (U.N.), and experts attended the Workshop to hear findings from MMN’s upcoming publication on migrant agricultural workers in Thailand and discuss how stakeholders can work towards improving protection mechanisms afforded this group of workers.
Between 2017 and 2019, MMN conducted collaborative research focusing on the agricultural industry because of the unique issues migrants face working in geographically isolated farms/plantations and the historical exclusion of agricultural workers from Thai labour laws. Based on empirical research conducted on cassava, corn, rubber and palm oil plantations in different parts of Thailand, the resulting study provides a textured account of migrants’ working experiences and proposes recommendations to safeguard migrants’ rights and expand services provided to them.
The three panels of the workshop focused on three key issues related to agricultural migrant workers: labour protection, access to social services and social protection, and occupational health and safety. At each panel, migrant representatives and CSOs shared common issues and violations at the workplace, as well as challenges workers face in accessing their entitlements and the justice mechanism. Officials from the Thai government also discussed the government’s latest initiatives to enhance existing protection mechanisms, including plans to expand the role of labour inspectors, ensure that all migrant workers are able to participate in Thailand’s Social Security System and Workmen’s Compensation Fund, conduct training on occupational health and safety, and work with neighbouring countries of origin, namely Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Myanmar, on issues related to migration statuses of agricultural workers.
MMN thanks all participants for contributing to an engaging discussion. On 30 January 2020 at 11 AM, MMN will launch the report Migrant Agricultural Workers in Thailand at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand in Bangkok, Thailand. We hope to use the platform to further the dialogue on agricultural migrant workers in Thailand, whose contributions have for long been largely unnoticed and whose voices have gone mostly unheard.
For quotes of the event, please click here.