Search form

Login - Register | FOLLOW US ON

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Thais move to register migrant workers

Migrants who work on fishing boats show their identity cards to prove that they are working legally during an inspection in Samut Sakhon, Thailand, in September. Bangkok Post
Migrants who work on fishing boats show their identity cards to prove that they are working legally during an inspection in Samut Sakhon, Thailand, in September. Bangkok Post

Thais move to register migrant workers

Thai authorities have announced that they are launching renewed efforts to document illegal migrant workers across Thailand, in what observers say is part of a continuing crackdown on unregistered migrants there, an estimated hundreds of thousands of whom come from neighbouring Cambodia.

Arak Phrommanee, head of the Department of Employment, said that staff from his department would begin a nationwide search through industrial zones for illegal migrants. Migrant workers caught without proper work permits, he said, would face harsh punishments, though he did not specify what those would be.

Employers caught harbouring unregistered migrants risked having their businesses shuttered. They could also be fined $2,800 per worker, with fines as high as $11,215 per worker in the fishing industry.

Thailand has faced stiff international criticism for its atrocious regulation of migrants working at sea, some of whom have been trafficked into slavery. The Thai cabinet on Tuesday decided to extend a registration period for Burmese, Laotian and Cambodian workers in the fishing industry until the end of July.

Andy Hall, a migration expert and activist based in Thailand and Myanmar, lambasted the recent announcement as another instance of “schizophrenic short-term face-saving policies” from Thai officials.

“It’s out of control to be honest. They don’t know what they’re doing. There’s no long-term policy. There’s no planning. It’s just these announcements again and again. It’s not really realistic,” he said.

Hoya Dethy, a labour officer at Phnom Penh rights group CENTRAL, said that while migrant workers should in principle register legally in Thailand, the process to do so was often too costly for Cambodian migrants, many of whom were often extorted by employers to obtain registration, being charged fees ranging from $300 to $500 for a single worker.

For workers apprehended by authorities working illegally in Thailand, Dethy painted a grim picture.

“They might put them in jail, but some extort money or starve them. This is what I’ve heard from victims of illegal migration to Thailand,” he said.

Thai government pressure on its 1.6 million migrant worker population has caused voluntary repatriations in the past.

Thailand’s coup in May 2014 triggered a mass exodus of workers back to Cambodia after rumours spread that the military was launching a tough crackdown on illegal labour.

Cambodia’s Ministry of Labour could not be reached for comment.

Additional reporting by the Bangkok Post

0

Comments

Please, login or register to post a comment

Latest Video

Bodies of Cambodian peacekeepers returned to Kingdom

The bodies of four Cambodian peacekeepers killed by a Christian militia in Central African Republic were repatriated to the Kingdom and honoured in an airport ceremony on May 21.

Phnom Penh eats: Ptas Nak Battambang

As the name suggests, Ptsa Nak Battambang – which in English means Battambang's house – is the right place for those who want to try some of the province's typical dishes in Phnom Penh.

CNRP commune chief candidate Khum Rany photographed near her family home.

In sleepy Sre Preang town in Preah Vihear province, two abandoned bulldozers sit on either side of the street in front of Brame Commune Hall.

Garment workers stitch clothes at a factory on the outskirts of Phnom Penh in 2014.

Eating lunch in the shade inside Phnom Penh’s Canadia Industrial Park last week, garment worker Heng Lai Yim, 32, defended her decision to vote for