Connect with us


Time to fight for the rights of Phuket’s Myanmar migrant workers

Legacy Phuket Gazette



Htoo Chit, 49, from Kayah, Myanmar, is the executive director and founder of the Foundation for Education and Development (FED), based in Phang Nga. FED is an NGO that works to promote and protect the rights of migrant Burmese workers. Htoo was recognized as an Ashoka Fellow in 2008 for his work to empower a new generation of migrants by offering them a range of opportunities long denied by existing institutions.

Here, he talks about the current state of affairs for Burmese migrant workers in Thailand, how they are continuously denied basic rights and what must be done by his organization and other agencies to initiate change.

PHUKET: A combination of many horrific factors – political repression, civil war, the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, Cyclone Nargis in 2008, land confiscations and more – has forced a mass exodus of Burmese and ethnic minority tribes from their native lands in search of economic opportunities abroad.

Myanmar workers find Thailand to be the best place to migrate for reasons such as food and cultural similarities, easily accessible borders, easy money transfer to families back home, common
religious beliefs and a thriving economy with numerous unskilled labor opportunities.

The hordes of Myanmar migrant workers that come to Thailand usually find employment opportunities in “3D” jobs – dirty, difficult and dangerous; the jobs Thai citizens are unwilling to fill. These jobs usually fall under the fishery, construction, mining, agricultural, tourism, entertainment and domestic service industries.

Workers in 3D jobs are often denied basic labor rights and abused physically and mentally by their employers. They are also denied minimum wages and compensation in cases of work-related injuries.

These basic human rights are abused daily, and many migrants are often too scared to seek help due to a lack of legal assistance and knowledge of the Thai legal system.

Long lasting and deeply rooted corruption and bribery among government officials, employers and human-trafficking brokers, has further impeded the progress of migrant workers in obtaining basic rights, and although the Myanmar government has improved its awareness and support of its people working abroad, greater effort and enforcement of policy is still needed to ensure that migrant workers receive the protection and basic human rights they deserve.

More of an effort by the Thai community and government is also needed to change the living and working conditions of Myanmar migrant workers.

Burmese and Thais often share a common workplace. Yet there are still social divisions between them that aggravate misconceptions and misunderstandings, which act as a source for violent confrontations and sexual assault among the communities.

Certain government and local policies also inhibit the integration of Burmese into Thai society.

For example, in some provinces, martial law is used to control the movement of Burmese migrants. In some areas, they are given a curfew and forbidden from doing everyday things, such as driving a motorbike.

We denounce such actions, and lobby relevant agencies, international governments and the Thai government.

Our staff members work very closely with several Burmese communities so we never lose sight of the issues that affect them on a day-to-day basis. Our staff members are predominately of Burmese origin and have come to Thailand through similar circumstances, which has enabled FED to reach the migrant population on a more personal and intimate level than a lot of bigger NGOs.

The result is a system in which Burmese migrants are empowered to lead better lives while in Thailand and are better prepared to make an impact in their home country should conditions improve to allow their return.

It is generally accepted that Myanmar’s political situation has begun to make positive strides in the right direction in recent years, as the long-standing military state begins to reopen to the world after decades of reclusiveness.

However, significant change takes time. There will be setbacks and obstacles to overcome.


Want more Thailand news from the Thaiger family?

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS for instant updates on your mobile
📝️ Join the conversation on Thaiger Talk - discuss news & life in our Thailand forums
📧 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🔔 Subscribe to or Join our YouTube channel for daily video updates


Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

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

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

Follow Thaiger by email:

Coronavirus (Covid-19)12 mins ago

Tuesday Covid Update: 4,059 new cases and 35 deaths

Coronavirus (Covid-19)19 mins ago

Third vaccine shot may be necessary to combat Delta variant

South34 mins ago

South hit by 402 cases of Beta variant

Phuket Sandbox July 1st


Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in July - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages in June!

Coronavirus (Covid-19)15 hours ago

AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines to be donated to Thailand from Japan

Bangkok15 hours ago

Bangkok police warn that protests planned for Thursday break the Emergency Decree

Thailand16 hours ago

Thailand News Today | Hotel occupancy, Phuket beaches hit with tar balls, doctor ‘warning’ | June 21

Thailand16 hours ago

Pattaya residents complain of sinkholes in road, couple sustains injuries

Insurgency16 hours ago

2 suspected insurgents killed in gunfire exchange with police-military team

Best of16 hours ago

Top 8 Things to do in Hua Hin

Thailand17 hours ago

Army raids a house, arrests 53 as part of alleged gambling operation

Best of17 hours ago

Top 5 Insurance Companies for Expats in Thailand

Thailand17 hours ago

Thailand abstains from vote on UN resolution condemning Myanmar violence

Leisure17 hours ago

Top 5 Rooftop Bars in Bangkok

Best of17 hours ago

Top 5 Shabu-Shabu Restaurants in Bangkok

Indonesia17 hours ago

Indonesia approaches 2 million Covid cases

Thailand4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism4 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8