Thailand’s military government has announced plans to fast-track work visas for thousands of Cambodians after a crackdown on illegal workers.
Three temporary offices have been set up along the Thai-Cambodian border where migrants will have their work permits processed.
“This is just a temporary measure which will be open for workers to register until July 25,” said Pakkarathorn Teainchai, the Sa Kaeo provincial governor, at Friday’s high-level press conference with officers from the Thai military. “But we are not sure how many labourers Thailand needs. It depends on the labour needs of Thai employers.”
Since the military seized power on May 22, the Thai junta has launched a concerted crackdown on illegal workers. The move triggered an exodus of Cambodians – up to 220,000 were reported to have poured over the border earlier this month.
But the decision to weed out the corrupt middlemen preying on Cambodian workers by offering illegal jobs has come at a high cost for Thailand. The country’s economy, which relies on cheap migrant labour, has been severely affected.
In a plan to entice workers to return, the Thai military government has announced that an official two-month work permit will cost just 80 baht ($2.50).
“Thailand’s policy is not to clear [migrants] out. [We] want to avoid Cambodian labourers being cheated,” said Pakkarathorn.