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Workers stay home over Thai turmoil

Workers stay home over Thai turmoil

IMMIGRATION officials on Wednesday said the number of migrant Cambodian workers crossing the  border into Thailand has dropped since political turmoil recently erupted in the neighbouring country.

"We have seen fewer Cambodian farm workers going to Thailand, as well as fewer arrests and deportations since the protests and unrest [in Bangkok]," Im Pon, an immigration police officer at the Poipet border checkpoint, told the Post on Wednesday.

Between 50 and 150 Cambodians per day were deported through the Poipet checkpoint since mid-October, Im Pon said - down from 200 to 250 in previous months.

Meanwhile, fewer than 50 documented workers with passports and health checks have crossed the border daily, compared with 100 per day last month, Im Pon said.

"[People] are afraid to work in Thailand because they are concerned about security after the demonstrations in Bangkok," he said. "Some of them are returning to [Cambodia] to find work in construction or factories."

Local work encouraged

The harvest season generally sees increased numbers of agricultural workers crossing the Poipet border to look for employment on Thai farms, said Im Pon, adding that as many as 6,000 Cambodians have continued working in Thailand's Rong Kleu market just across the border.

Oum Mean, a secretary of state for the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training, said the government is encouraging workers to stay at home and find employment locally.

"We know that workers are concerned about the situation in Thailand. It is not the right time for them to be working [there]," Oum Mean said, adding that officials are now stepping up efforts to prevent people from crossing the border illegally.

"It is dangerous to work in Thailand right now because they are experiencing disorder in their country," said Oum Mean.

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