Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Thailand upgrades anti-trafficking, migrant programs

Wednesday, 18 July 2012 12:30 Mizzima News

The Thai Labour Ministry has announced a consolidation of agencies designed to combat human trafficking and improve migrant workers’ conditions.

A file photograph shows migrant laborers sorting fish as they work on a Thai fishing boat in Thailand's Ranong Province. Photo: AFP

Deputy Permanent Secretary Songsri Bunba said that coordination in the past was poor because five departments had worked without integration, according to an article in The Nation on Tuesday.

For migrant workers, the process should begin with quotas granted by authorities from neighbouring countries, followed by job placement and the issuance of work permits, registration of workplace and employment, and explanations of workers’ social security welfare conditions. Workers should be well informed of their working conditions and pay rates, said the official.

Key ministry officials will meet on Tuesday to discuss a master plan to implement the program.

Also, a government commission on anti-trafficking has been set up to tackle the problem, with all relevant agencies pooled together to integrate their operations under Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung.

Chalerm, speaking on Monday at the inauguration of the commission, said the operation would encourage illegal migrant workers now in hiding to come out, to register and to work legally in Thailand.

A Coordination Centre for the Farming Sector has been established with offices in the coastal provinces of Samut Sakhon, Rayong, Trat, Chumphon, Songkhla, Ranong and Satun.

Thai industries rely heavily on Burmese migrant workers, both legal and illegal.

The idea of Burmese migrant workers eventually returning to their homeland as its economy improves has set off alarms in Thailand, which depends on Burmese migrant labour in many industrial sectors.

In Trang Province in far south Thailand, leaders are predicting a looming labour shortage in the next few years, according to Trang's Industry Council chairman Withee Supitak.

The industrial sector in the south formerly employed workers from northeastern Thailand, he said, but with more jobs there at the same income rate, fewer Thais are looking for jobs in the south.

The economy in Trang includes labour intensive farm products such as para rubber and palm oil, and orders from foreign countries have fallen, placing more pressure employers, he said.

Concerns about an exodus of Burmese migrant workers were heightened in May when Aung San Suu Kyi visited Thailand and focused on the rights and status of Burmese workers. She told Burmese migrants she would work to improve their lot in Thailand, but one day they would also be able to return home to find work.

There are up to 1 million undocumented Burmese migrants working in Thailand, according to some estimates.

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