As Thailand today opens another fast-track visa office along the border in the hope of reversing the ongoing exodus of workers, Cambodia continues clamouring to find jobs for the returning migrants.
The Ministry of Labour remained adamant yesterday that there are enough open positions in the Kingdom to employ all the repatriated workers. But the National Employment Agency has so far identified just 37,000 job vacancies potentially suitable for nearly 250,000 returned workers.
The vast majority of the workers streaming in from Thailand, however, have not registered with the agency. Among the 15,000 who have, few listed viable contact information.
“Some want to return back to Thailand,” said Hong Choeun, director of the agency.
Since the government announced a new $49, 53-day process for obtaining legal documentation to work overseas, labourers have flooded the country’s two passport offices in the hope of securing better paid jobs abroad. And though the system has yet to take effect, border officials said yesterday they are already starting to see people trickle back to Thailand.
About 2,600 Cambodians trekked into the neighbouring country via Poipet between Friday and yesterday, according to Sim Sam Arth, chief of the checkpoint’s immigration office. The figure does not include market vendors who work at the border or visitors to the market adjacent to the crossing, but Sam Arth said the estimate represents an increase to the daily average of 200 to 300 crossings.
“We can see that the number keeps increasing gradually from day to day, but it is still not a critical mass of workers yet,” he said, adding that all those who crossed over the weekend had legal documents.
But even though Thailand has also reduced the cost of its worker’s permit to lure labourers to return legally, migration experts warned not everyone will go back so easily.
“Security and safety are the main issues. As long as the Thai junta cannot guarantee their safety, I am not sure how the problem will be solved,” said Pavin Chachavalpongpun, a Thai politics expert at Kyoto University.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY LAIGNEE BARRON AND BANGKOK POST