Connect with us


Migrant worker exodus hits agriculture, construction sectors

Legacy Phuket Gazette



Migrant worker exodus hits agriculture, construction sectors | The Thaiger
  • follow us in feedly


– Thailand news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Migrant worker exodus hits agriculture, construction sectors
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Of the more than 100,000 Cambodian workers who fled Thailand, 60-70 per cent were in the construction and agricultural sector in the East, permanent secretary for Labour Jeerasak Sukhonthachart said yesterday.

Over the past week, more than 100,000 Cambodian workers in Thailand have returned home following rumours that the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) was planning to crack down on them.

The Labour Ministry has said it would launch a project to systematically move documented workers to the areas abandoned by the departed Cambodians.

However, the Thai-Cambodian Border Trade and Tourism Association of Chanthaburi province has predicted the Cambodian workers would return to Thailand within a few weeks because Thai wages are at least three times higher than those in Cambodia.

Speaking to 1,500 employers and migrant workers in Chon Buri’s Sri Racha district yesterday, Jeerasak said Rayong had seen 30,000 documented Cambodian workers and possibly another 30,000 undocumented ones departing Thailand.

Crackdown aimed at traffickers

He said the NCPO’s crackdown was aimed not at individual workers but at human trafficking to punish procuring persons, the employers and benefit-reaping officials.

Under a project to tackle the suddden labour shortage, employers could inform their provincial employment office about the number of migrant workers needed, their sex, work details, wages and welfare.

The office could then contact other employment offices with plentiful migrant workers to invite them to work in the affected areas, he added.

Business operators also urged the waiving of the Bt1,000 fee per worker charged in cases of migrant worker relocation.

Chon Buri employment official Pichit Nilthongkham said the province’s 90,000 documented workers included some 40,000 Cambodians. The worker exodus – although mostly by undocumented Cambodians – affected all sectors especially agriculture and fisheries, followed by construction and tourism and hospitality. Pichit said Thai authorities tried to have employers keep records of migrant workers for easier checking. At the same time, other business operators could be asked to “lend” their workers to the hard-hit agricultural sector.

The chairman of Sri Racha district’s club of migrant workers, Min Lin Sao, said 200 out of the club’s 300 members had departed Thailand. He said he would relay the official message to club members that the Army and the police would not mistreat the workers.

He said many understood this and had continued to work as usual.

Rayong Chamber of Commerce chair Anuchida Chinsiraprapha said the Cambodian workers’ exodus had affected businesses on the tourist island of Koh Samet.

SMEs suffering

Despite attempts by Thai authorities to allay foreign workers’ concerns, most remained worried and their departures had impacted small- and medium-sized enterprises, she said. All 500 Cambodian workers on Koh Samet had left local shops, restaurants and hotels and consequently there was little labour on duty in the service sector there.

The shortage was also severe in the agricultural sector as there were no workers to harvest fruit or tap latex, she said, warning the problem would expand to fisheries and the para wood (natural rubber tree) industries.

Fruit orchard owners in Rayong’s Muang district, meanwhile, claimed they had to hire Thai workers at Bt500 a day – compared to the Bt300 a day paid to Cambodians. Orchard-owner Somkuan Prangsri said, “Thai workers also aren’t as skilled in fruit-picking as the migrant workers we used to hire, so we get low-quality produce bringing down the price of fruit.”

However, some Cambodian workers are reportedly returning to Pong Nam Ron and Soi Dao districts in Chanthaburi province, as they need wages to support their families.

Some Cambodians told their Thai employers they would be back after preparing their documents to seek legal immigration into Thailand.

Former energy minister Pichai Naripthaphan commented that the re-organising of Thailand’s 5-6 million migrant workers, documented or otherwise, should be carefully implemented as an exodus could severely affect the country’s economy already hampered by the unrest.

He urged the authority to take into consideration the upcoming Asean Economic Community that promoted a free flow of labour.

Meanwhile, Chulalongkorn University academic Panitan Wattanayagorn backed the plan to have some 2 million illegal workers registered into a proper system, which would also give them basic rights |protection and boost Thailand’s image.

Many provinces – such as Nakhon Ratchasima, Tak and Songkhla – have seen Thai authorities adopting public relations to help employers and migrant workers understand the situation and dismiss talk of a violent crackdown on Cambodian workers.

Cambodian Interior Minister Sar Kheng placed the blame for the crisis squarely at Bangkok’s door, AFP reported yesterday.

“After the military coup in Thailand, the Thai military leaders sent illegal Cambodian migrant workers in a rush without informing and discussing with Cambodia,” he said in Phnom Penh, adding that eight people had been killed in traffic accidents linked to the exodus.

“I think that the current leaders of the Thai junta must be held accountable for what has happened.”

Sar Kheng, who is also deputy prime minister, said Cambodian migrants had helped boost the Thai economy, which is the second-largest in Southeast Asia and draws large numbers of migrants from its neighbours.

“So when they deported them, there will be a problem. According to my informal information, [Thai] employers have started to protest against the issue,” he said.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Never miss out on future posts by following The Thaiger.
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Read more headlines, reports & breaking news in Thailand. Or catch up on your Thailand news.

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.


Thailand beaches may limit visitors until Covid-19 vaccine is available

Caitlin Ashworth



Thailand beaches may limit visitors until Covid-19 vaccine is available | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Unsplash: Merve Selcuk Simsek

Beaches and national parks might not fully open to international tourists until a Covid-19 vaccine is available. Around 120 to 150 tourists departing from China are set to arrive in Phuket on October 8 after a 6 month ban on international tourists. They’ll have to go through a 14 day state quarantine, but after that, they may not be able to enjoy some of the island’s beaches. A report from Bloomberg says it’s “unlikely” beaches and parks will fully open to overseas travellers until a vaccine is out.

Thailand’s borders won’t fully reopen to international tourists until a vaccine is widely available to the public, according to Tourism Council of Thailand president Chairat Trirattanajarasporn. For the time being, only tourists on select charter flights with a 90 day Special Tourist Visa can enter the country.

“It’s good for the country to reopen even if it’s just for trial … Once we’ve tested our reopening plan for a month, we can assess how to go forward and allow more visitors to come in.”

The new Special Tourist Visa is an effort intended to help revive Thailand’s tourism industry which has been crippled by the coronavirus pandemic. According to Bloomberg, the sector makes but about a fifth of the nation’s economy. Last year, the tourism industry generated 1.9 trillion baht with about 40 million foreign visitors. With travel restrictions in place to control the spread of the coronavirus, Chairat predicts tourism revenue will drop 82.6% to 336.5 billion baht by the end of the year.

“Businesses that rely on foreign tourists, especially in Phuket, Samui, Pattaya and Chiang Mai, will continue to close in the coming months because there would only be a small group of people coming in after the reopening.”

SOURCE: Bloomberg

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Never miss out on future posts by following The Thaiger.
Continue Reading

Video & Podcasts

Thailand News Today | Phuket re-opens, TripAdvisor review saga, Samut Prakhan chem spill | Sept 30

The Thaiger



Thailand News Today | Phuket re-opens, TripAdvisor review saga, Samut Prakhan chem spill | Sept 30 | The Thaiger

Daily TV news about Thailand. Updates and all the latest information from

Phuket prepares to welcome first Chinese tourists in over 6 months

The first group of tourists to arrive under Thailand’s new Special Tourist Visa scheme will land in Phuket on October 8.

The flight from Guangzhou in southern China will carry 120 tourists, who will spend their first 14 days in alternative state quarantine. They are reported to be travelling under the government’s new STV.

The resort islands of Phuket and Koh Samui will be the first to welcome travellers under the Special Tourist Via scheme. Guangzhou has not recorded any new cases of the Covid-19 virus for a prolonged period.

The CCSA reports that there will be a limit of 300 foreign tourists admitted each week, but this will be reviewed after the first phase of the re-opening. All arrivals will be subject to 14 day quarantine.

Minister calls for all complaints against Sarasas schools to be monitored amid abuse allegations

The Education Minister is asking the Office of the Private Education Commission to closely monitor all complaints filed against all Sarasas Witaed School branches around the country.

34 out of 42 of the schools have had complaints filed against them. Allegations of abuse first emerged when the actions of an abusive teacher at a branch of the school in the central province of Nonthaburi, just north of central Bangkok, were captured on CCTV.

Additional complaints made against several other branches of the private school allege harsh punishment, the charging of fees not sanctioned by the Education Ministry, and the use of unqualified teachers. The Thonburi school was also accused of using babysitters as teachers

The man who wrote the bad reviews for Koh Chang’s Sea View Resort has a criminal record

In the ongoing stoush between the American, Wesley Barnes, and Koh Chang’s Sea View Resort, it’s now been revealed that Mr Barnes has been of interest to the US judicial system in the past, being accused of firing a weapon at a bar in Jackson County, Missouri.

Wesley Barnes, who has been working in Thailand as a teacher, posted a number of negative reviews on different platforms, including Trip Advisor, allegedly accusing the Koh Chang resort of “modern day slavery”, amongst other complaints. He stayed at the resort in June this year.

But this isn’t the first time Mr Barnes has come to the attention of police.

In the US there was an incident which is now public record. There was an official police complaint against the 34 year old in 2017. He was accused of firing a weapon near Waldo Bar, and later at a convenience store, told people he was a federal agent prior to the initial incident.

Of course the man’s criminal record doesn’t prevent him from posting negative reviews but provides just a little more context to the ongoing saga between the hotel and Mr Barnes.

PM dismisses rumours of alliance with opposition to form new government

Thai PM Prayuth Chan-o-cha has rubbished rumours that the ruling coalition parties plan to join forces with the opposition Pheu Thai party to form a new government.

While the PM initially didn’t respond to the question, instead bidding reporters a good day and walking away, he did mumble that he had enough “headaches” with one of his coalition partners.

Meanwhile Deputy PM, Prawit Wongsuwan, also dismissed the question, accusing the media of being behind the speculation. Under the current constitution the Thai PM is elected by a parliamentary majority, and not automatically coming from the leader of the party with the most number of votes. But a coalition between Prayut and Pheu Thai does seem, at face value, extremely unlikely.

Around 10 villagers hospitalised after chemical spill in Samut Prakan

Around 10 people were hospitalised after a chemical tank spilled at a village in Samut Prakan, just southeast of Bangkok.

Those near the spill reported feeling nauseous and some had trouble breathing. Officials do not known what chemical was in the tank.

The 1 metre tank had been taken into the forest by 2 employees at a second hand shop who hoped they could take it apart and sell the scrap metal. The 2 employees fainted when the tank spilled. Trees and grass in a 100 metre radius of the chemical spill also died.

The chemical let off a strong odour and Thai media says the fumes spread to a nearby village. Those at the second hand shop, close by to the chemical spill, started to feel nauseous and some had trouble breathing. Some people reported skin rashes after the incident. Around 10 villagers, including children, were sent to hospital.

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Never miss out on future posts by following The Thaiger.
Continue Reading


Thailand farmers hope to grow and export cannabis by next year

Caitlin Ashworth



Thailand farmers hope to grow and export cannabis by next year | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Unsplash: Esteban Lopez

Under a proposed law, Thailand farmers would be allowed to grow cannabis and hemp for export without going through cannabis certified universities or medical institutes. The National Farmers Council president Praphat Panyachatrak says he hopes the new law will be in place by next year. The legislation is still being reviewed by the Public Health Ministry and National Legislative Assembly, but Praphat says he expects an announcement will be made soon.

Thailand’s recent rush to decriminalise and even legalise marijuana follows the Bhumjaithai Party joining the government coalition in 2019, headed by current Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul. His elected MPs provide essential votes for the fragile coalition. His party ran on a platform of legalising marijuana.

Thailand has been gearing up for the global cannabis trade with talk of classifying medical cannabis as an economic crop. The classification would allow the plant to be exported to other countries. The government has also talked about adding a variety of cannabis cultivars to keep up with the demanding cannabis industry.

The National Farmers Council has been advocating for the cultivation of cannabis and Praphat says the new law will make it easier for farmers to grow the plant. He adds that farmers would be able to get a permit to grow cannabis as soon as they got an order from overseas.

Recreational marijuana is still illegal in Thailand and is considered a Category 5 narcotic. Those charged with distributing cannabis face 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine from 40,000 baht to 200,000 baht. Those caught distributing over 10 kilograms of cannabis face up to 15 years in prison and a fine from 200,000 baht to 1,500,000 baht.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand | Chiang Rai Times

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Never miss out on future posts by following The Thaiger.
Continue Reading
Follow The Thaiger by email: