Business owners complain about problems importing labour
PHUKET: A group of around 10 local business owners met on Friday (March 9) with senior officials to air grievances about problems with the procedures for importing Burmese labour.
Tuesday 13 March 2012, 01:27PM
At a meeting at Provincial Hall with Pakorn Amornchewin, Deputy Director-General of the Department of Welfare and Labor Protection (DWLP), and Governor Tri Augkaradacha,
Weerawat Jinowat, owner of Andaman Marine Construction, complained that 10 workers he had hired were arrested by Thung Thong police on February 11, accused of working without work permits.
But, Mr Weerawat said, they were not working. They could not work – there was no electric power on site, and no equipment.
He explained that he had followed the terms of a memorandum of understanding between the Thai and Burmese governments on imported labour, and had paid an employment agent B16,500 per worker to source and deliver the 10 workers, who arrived on February 10.
The following day police arrived at the construction site where the workers were housed and arrested them. Mr Weerawat submitted a complaint to the Governor after the arrests but, a month later, the workers are still locked up in Phuket Provincial Prison.
Mr Weerawat stressed that he had followed the rules for hiring imported labour.
He said he had showed police copies of the paperwork that had been submitted in order for the workers to get work permits, including copies of their passports with permits to stay stamped in them.
The police, he alleged, would not accept the validity of the documents, but said they would release the workers in return for a “fee” of B5,000 per worker. They would not accept a lower figure.
The president of the Phuket Business Operators Club, Prasart Boontarpiwat, told the meeting that the Myanmar Consulate had been contacted and had responded that they could not understand why the workers had been arrested. Consular officials were particularly concerned about this case because everything had been done by the book.
The other business owners in the meeting urged the authorities to be more flexible in the issuing of work permits, especially over the limited periods allowed for submission of paperwork after workers arrive in Thailand.
The governor promised he would speak with relevant authorities to try to solve these problems. He also promised to check up Mr Weerawat’s case with Thung Thong Police.
For his part, Mr Pakorn said that he would carry the complaints of the business owners back to Bangkok for consideration by the board of the DWLP.
Mr Weerawat said that he plans to present an open letter about the arrest of his workers to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra when she is in Phuket next Monday and Tuesday (March 19 and 20) for the scheduled mobile Cabinet meeting.