Connect with us

Phuket

Phuket pow wow over illegal alien workers

Published

 on 

PHUKET: The number of illegal alien workers in Phuket is around 200,000, it was announced at a Senate committee meeting in Phuket on Friday.

About 150 government officers, senators and private-sector representatives met at the Kata Beach Resort on Friday morning to brainstorm better ways to legalize the estimated 1.5 million illegal workers from neighboring countries, especially Burma.

Suvit Meksereekul, who chairs the Senate committee on labor and social welfare issues, said the government needs to develop clear-cut policies that would give alien workers and the people who hire them better long-term employment prospects.

The meeting tacitly accepted that the “nationality verification process” begun last year has been a failure and that human trafficking in Burmese workers continues.

“On the issue of human trafficking, I have heard that some operators buy new pickups on credit to transport the workers in from the border at Ranong. They just abandon the vehicles if they get caught,” he said.

Such practices speak to the scale of the business and the profits involved, he said.

Legal registration of all alien workers was the only real solution to the problem. Achieving this would require more cooperation from employers, he said.

“Right now businesses just see that they lack employees [and continue to hire illegal aliens]. If this continues the number of alien workers entering Thailand will be virtually unlimited. We need to get control of the situation by matching the numbers allowed to enter with the number of workers actually needed,” he said.

Lampang Senator Peera Manatas, who chairs a sub-committee on administrative issues related to registration of workers from Burma, Cambodia and Laos, reiterated that there is no way of knowing with accuracy how many workers from those countries are working in Thailand illegally.

Comprehensive registration would solve this problem, afford basic human rights and medical care for the workers, and put an end to complaints from abroad over such issues, he said.

Checks on workers at important border crossing towns in Chiang Rai, Tak and Ranong revealed that only about 50% of the migrants were registered, he said.

“We need help from the private sector, but employers seem worried that the workers will not stay with them long enough to justify the expense [of registration]. So we are looking for ways for the government to reduce such expenses,” Senator Peera said.

Further complicating the issue were views held by the workers, many of whom fear that registration would cause their families back home to be taxed.

“Also, our process is complicated and expensive for them, especially given the low earnings they make,” he said.

He was referring to the 2,000 baht fee for issuance of a “work permit” for those who undergo the verification process. For the Burmese workers who make up the majority, verification also requires an expensive trip to a “nationality verification center” at a Burmese border checkpoint across from Ranong, Chiang Rai or Tak province.

“As we are trying to solve the problem, today we come to listen to employers, business representatives and representatives from related government agencies including the Labor Department, Interior Ministry, police and the military,” he said.

As for the scheduled deadline for registration on February 28, 2012, the date would probably have to be extended because of the lack of compliance from workers, especially those from Burma, he said.

Although not specifically addressed, a key part of the problem is that many of the “Burmese” workers are not Burmese at all, but rather come from lands controlled by the Burmese junta.

Many, including many tens of thousands of ethnic Mons in Phuket, are effectively stateless – as are their children, many of whom have never known any home apart from Thailand.

Pol Maj Gen Suthep Suksanguan, vice president of the labor and social
welfare committee, estimated there are currently 10,000 children born to [illegal] alien workers living in Thailand.

“We have not given them nationality because their parents came here illegally. More important is the fact that the government of Myanmar doesn’t accept them either, saying they were born in Thailand and thus should be granted Thai nationality,” he said.

At present rates, the numbers of such stateless children living in Thailand could swell to 100,000 in the future, he said.

“What will happen if we have 100,000 [Thai-born] stateless people living here? It will be the same problem that the Rohingyas [stateless people from Western Burma] are now facing,” he said.

Nakorn Silpa-Archa, director-general of the Labor Ministry’s Department of Skill Development, said another reason there are more than million alien workers in Thailand is the fact that Thai employers are quick to hire them over suitably-qualified Thais.

Thai people should be offered jobs first, with jobs going to aliens only if they are really needed, he said.

Labor and social welfare committee spokesperson Suampha Kochakrai said another reason Thailand attracts so many migrant workers is that Thais are leaving their homeland to work abroad.

There are currently some 400,000 to 500,000 Thais working abroad, she said.

— Atchaa Khamlo & S. Fein

 

Get more from The Thaiger

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.

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

Follow Thaiger by email:

Best of3 mins ago

Revealed: the best rooftop bars in the world

Thailand8 mins ago

Father & 2 year old son shot in Chiang Mai

Pattaya22 mins ago

Officials predict over 100,000 people at Pattaya International Fireworks Festival

Thailand31 mins ago

Six-legged golden frog brings good fortune in northern Thailand

Tourism33 mins ago

Saii Laguna Phuket to hold a conference on tourism safety and security

Thailand44 mins ago

Mother seeks justice after a monk slapped her son

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Expats1 hour ago

Bangkok ranked one of top 5 expat cities

Thailand1 hour ago

Woman abandons home after police ignore four burglaries

Thailand2 hours ago

VIDEO: Brave citizens save delivery driver swept away by floods in northeast Thailand

Chiang Mai2 hours ago

Chiang Mai wakes up to a flooded city district

World2 hours ago

Japanese warned to take cover over North Korea missile test

World2 hours ago

Book on Trump reveals casual racism and homophobia

Thailand3 hours ago

Thai bank releases bizarre ‘apology’ for repossessing the wrong house

Tourism3 hours ago

Thailand wants more tourists from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan

Thailand4 hours ago

Elon Musk angers Ukraine president with Russia tweets

Thailand1 year ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand2 years ago

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

Tourism2 years ago

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

Phuket2 years ago

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

Tourism2 years ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand2 years ago

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

Tourism2 years ago

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

Thailand2 years ago

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

Thailand2 years ago

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

Thailand2 years ago

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

Thailand2 years ago

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

Thailand2 years ago

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

Thailand2 years ago

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

Thailand2 years ago

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

Thailand2 years ago

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

Trending