PHUKET: The multi-agency task force of government officers responsible for rounding up all illegal foreign workers throughout Southern Thailand is expected to start operations this week.
The news follows a meeting of representatives of the five regional teams in Bangkok last Friday.
Noppodol Ployudee, Chief of the Phuket Provincial Employment Office (PPEO), will lead the team for Southern Thailand.
“I have received the order from the meeting that they [the task force] could start their mission in the South within this week, and it will end on September 30 next year,” he told the Gazette.
“The mission is to monitor, suppress, arrest and prosecute all foreigners found working illegally without the proper permit – as well as their employers,” he said.
“We will submit reports of the operation to Deputy Prime Minister Sanan Kachornprasart every day,” he added.
“We are now waiting for the equipment and vehicles from headquarters. Once they give us the signal, we will start the operation immediately,” he said.
Mr Noppodol’s team consists of about 21 members from the Royal Thai Police, the Royal Thai Army, the Royal Thai Navy, the Department of Provincial Administration, the Department of Social Development and Welfare, and the Department of Employment.
“Our team will be divided into three smaller groups, according to the zone. One of the three teams will be responsible for Phuket, Ranong, Phang Nga and Krabi. We will go into areas such as restaurants, massage parlors and department stores.
“So, if anyone knows anything about illegal workers, feel free to report to us by calling the PPEO,” Mr Noppadol said.
The Phuket provincial task force concluded its operations on November 28. “It is also possible to combine the provincial team with the regional team,” Mr Noppadol said.
“In some provinces , we will request support from authorities such as Immigration Police and District Chiefs, as well as authorities of the local employment offices,” he said.
The Phuket provincial squad arrested 72 Burmese and three employers during their raids, Mr Noppadol said.
“I am satisfied with the number of illegal employees arrested. But regarding the number of employers, I think it is relatively small.
“As there was a high number of illegal workers arrested, the number of employers arrested should be high too,” he said.
Construction companies usually denied that the foreigners were working illegally for them, making it difficult for the team to press charges against them, Mr Noppadol said.
“Also, foreign workers who come illegally to Phuket have no identification documents about their employers. We do not have any evidence of the salaries paid to them, either. So, it is quite difficult to prosecute those employers, unless we catch them at the construction site,” he said.
— Janpen Upatising
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