The government is trying to ensure that an estimated 100,000 illegal Cambodian workers in Thailand meet a registration deadline set for next month, but many migrants feared regulation would decrease their incomes, officials said yesterday.
In May, the Thai government announced a crackdown on illegal migrant workers from Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos.
Those who fail to register by July 14 have been threatened with legal action and deportation. Chou Bun Eng, secretary of state of the Ministry of Interior, said yesterday Cambodian Ministry of Labour and Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials had made significant efforts to ensure the majority of those workers met the deadline.
“At the present time, what we are doing is seeking the identity of Cambodian workers who are working illegally in Thailand in order to ask them to register,” she said.
But she said many workers appeared to be hiding from officials because they were worried that regulation through labour laws would prevent them illegally working 15- to 20-hour days. Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch, said yesterday it was likely that illegal migrant workers were reluctant to register because they were unable to pay the registration fee, set at 3,380 baht (US$128).
“A lot of the time, a person will register and . . . the employer pays,” Robertson said.
This, he said, made it difficult for workers to flee abusive situations.
They would be unable to register unless they found a new job within seven days and received a severance letter from their boss, Robertson said.