PHUKET: A task force of about 50 officers has been set up to crack down on illegal labor in Phuket.
Phuket Provincial Employment Services Office (PESO) Chief Boonchock Maneechot announced the crackdown following a closed meeting last Thursday with Phuket Governor Udomsak Uswarangkura and new the Phuket Provincial Immigration Office (PPIO) Superintendent, Pol Col Prayut Chommalee.
K. Boonchock cited poor sanitary conditions at workers’ camps and the increasing violence among illegal workers as the two main reasons for the crackdown.
“When officers have visited the camps where foreign laborers live, they have seen that the workers live in poor sanitary conditions,” he said.
“We are looking at issuing warnings to employers if conditions at workers’ camps are not satisfactory.”
K. Boonchock said that Phuket has 23,308 registered alien workers, but he estimated that about 30,000 illegal aliens are working on the island. He explained that the huge number of illegal laborers was mainly the result of employers importing them from other provinces, chiefly Ranong.
To help solve the problems, K. Boonchock explained, the Labor Ministry in Bangkok is considering introducing another amnesty for illegal laborers to register – a period of amnesty was offered last year – and making health checks on foreign laborers arriving from other provinces mandatory.
“Phuket right now has many problems with Burmese. For example, there are Ya Khai Burmese minority group workers from Phang Nga who are now in Phuket. The Ya Khai in particular are violent, and often kill each other over disputes,” K. Boonchock said.
He warned that some employers registered laborers in one province but then moved them to another province without registering the movement. This automatically – and immediately – meant the laborers were working illegally.
“If employers need to move laborers to another province, they must tell the PESO in their province and ask permission to do so,” he said.
In response to the Governor’s request for a solution to the problems, K. Boonchock told the Gazette, he will suggest using the Governors Act of 1914, which gives provincial governors the power to arrest, control and punish in matters concerning illegal labor.
To use this power, a Governor must first obtain permission from the Interior Ministry.
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