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Over 650,000 workers seek amnesty as government sounds warning

Over 650,000 workers seek amnesty as government sounds warning

THAILAND: More than 650,000 migrant workers from Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar have applied to stay in the kingdom legally for two more years under the government’s labour amnesty programme, which began on Jan 15.

CoronavirusCOVID-19immigrationMyanmarhealth
By Bangkok Post

Monday 15 February 2021, 09:16AM


In this photo taken on Dec 20 last year, 2,000 Myanmar migrant workers wait in front of a dormitory near the Thai Union Market in Samut Sakhon as health officials conduct COVID-19 tests. Photo: Arnun Chonmahatrakool.

In this photo taken on Dec 20 last year, 2,000 Myanmar migrant workers wait in front of a dormitory near the Thai Union Market in Samut Sakhon as health officials conduct COVID-19 tests. Photo: Arnun Chonmahatrakool.

The amnesty programme was designed to allow the government to monitor the welfare of migrant workers in Thailand - in light of COVID-19 outbreaks which were linked to foreign labourers - and help stave off labour shortages due to border closures.

Under the scheme, illegal migrant workers from Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar who come forward to register will be allowed to legally stay and work in the country until Feb 13, 2023, without facing any penalties.

The figure was announced by Labour Minister, Suchart Chomklin, on Saturday (Feb 13), as the registration period officially ended. He also delivered a stern warning, saying the government will take legal action against illegal migrant workers who refused to register with authorities, as well as their employers. “[The government] would send them back to their home country and take legal action against enterprises which hired them,” he said.

In total, 654,864 migrant workers have registered with authorities. These workers will have to take a COVID-19 test and submit their identification details, along with other required documents to the Labour Ministry by April 16, said Mr Suchart. Out of the total, 596,502 workers are employed, while 58,362 are not. Most of the workers came from Myanmar, followed by Cambodia and Laos, the minister said.

Most workers were based in Bangkok, Chon Buri, Pathum Thani, Samut Prakan and Samut Sakhon, with the majority employed in construction, agriculture, food & beverage, services and the agricultural sector, he added. “This shows that there are about 600,000 illegal migrant workers in Thailand, not over a million as many people had claimed before,” he said.

When asked to comment on the B2,300 fee for the migrant workers’ COVID-19 test, which critics said might be too expensive, Mr Suchart said the price was set by the Department of Medical Science.

In addition to the COVID-19 test, each migrant worker must undergo health screening to ensure they are free from six diseases of high concern by Oct 18. Once completed, their employer could then apply for a work permit on their behalf by Dec 30. In total, an employer would have to pay around B8,000 per worker to complete the process, a sum which the minister said was “reasonable”. “No employer complained about it,” he said.

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Kurt | 16 February 2021 - 09:01:21

.... not touched by the Thai 'law'. But why to legalize foreign workers, as there is a 'starving' unemployed Thai Phuket work force. These can go elsewhere in Thailand to pick up jobs. It was always workers from all over Thailand to Phuket. Make it now unemployed Thai workers from Phuket to other provinces.

Kurt | 16 February 2021 - 08:47:22

Word-twisting labour Minister. That 655,000 illegals stepped forward doesn't mean there are not 1 million illegals over. These 350,000+ perhaps are not 'allowed' by Thai employers to seek legalization. A illegal is cheaper. No legalization costs, can pay lower wages, easier to sack, etc. At moment of arrest the illegal takes the burden, Thai employers are not touched by the Thai 'l...

 

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