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Phuket construction magnate flames government for migrant worker crisis

PHUKET: The CEO of a major construction firm that has been involved more than 40 projects in Phuket amounting to more than B10 billion has flamed government officials for being too slow and using overcomplicated application processes for creating the migrant worker crisis currently evolving across the country.

construction, Myanmar, economics,

Tanyaluk Sakoot

Thursday 6 July 2017, 04:45PM

Officials' overcomplicated processes and slow working have led construction firms to hire illegal migrant workers, said Phuket magnate Watchara Jaruariyanon. Photo: The Phuket News / file
Officials' overcomplicated processes and slow working have led construction firms to hire illegal migrant workers, said Phuket magnate Watchara Jaruariyanon. Photo: The Phuket News / file

“This is affecting everyone in the construction businesses, but especially the smaller construction firms, as they do not have the human resources to deal with this,” Watchara Jaruariyanon, CEO of Vasi Co Ltd, told The Phuket News.

“Complicated official processes and officials working too slowly has led to small construction firms seeking out and hiring illegal migrants for their businesses,” he added.

Mr Watchara explained, “Some migrant workers hold temporary worker’s cards called the ‘Pink Card’. Under this system, if migrant workers go to work in a different area, they become illegal.

“Officials (in Phuket) used to have a ‘One Stop Service’ for a migrant workers’ registration, but that disappeared two years ago. Surely this is played a part in the lack of migrant worker registrations here,” he added.

Mr Watchara called on the government to overhaul the processes for registering migrant workers.

“Even after the 180 days clemency (see story here), we need an effective policy that officials can work to,” he said.

Mr Watchara first called for a set deadline for officials to complete processing applications as a priority.

British International School, Phuket

“Officials by law must have a limited time to finish all process, without delay. If an office is too slow, it costs employers time – and in business, time is money,” he said.

“Second, the government must regulate migrant worker agencies, as these agencies play an important role in the business sector,” Mr Watchara said.

“Also, the government should standard service prices for these agencies. They should not be allowed to overcharge for their services. This affects businesses and plays a part in the government achieving its goals regarding illegal migrant workers.

“Third, we are concerned about the quality of migrant workers available. There should be a standard form for employers to complete when requesting migrant workers from such agencies, and the employer should indicate whether experience is required. That is important. We want migrant workers who have experience for our construction projects.” Mr Watchara added.

Meanwhile, Somyos Wongboonyakul, President of the Phuket Fishery Association, told Khao Phuket this morning that Phuket’s fishing fleet had also been hard hit by the migrant worker crackdown.

“This has had a direct effect on our industry. Some fishing boats can still go out to work, but others cannot because they don’t have enough workers. It is hard for these boats to work like they used to do,” he said.

“I wish the government could see what has happened to us, to see our hearts and that in reality we are not bad men,” he added.



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Jor12 | 08 July 2017 - 17:24:57

SueOriginal...I understand fully what I am talking about. It's all well and good quoting the unique way in which Thailand conjures up its remarkable unemployment figures, but do you ever wonder why the unemployment figures are so ridiculously low in comparison to other countries for example India at 9.4%; Philippines 6%; Australia 5.7%? For a full explanation see Bangkok Post article of 4/2/15. Therefore, given the distortion of these figures, the labour supply is not very short as you suggest.  If that is not the case, why is that you can be employed but only in an occupation that does not violate the Alien Employment Act? i.e. Thai nationals to be given priority. Also, why is it that so many rural residents, gravitate to Bangkok to seek employment? 

So, what you are advocating is still conforming to the ideals of those members to which this article refers, namely the exploitation of migrant workers which is in contravention of UN resolutions. How can there be wage inflation when the minimum wage is set at 310THB per day (In Phuket)? On your analysis then, it means then that these exploiters are paying these migrant workers less than the minimum wage. 

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SueOriginal | 08 July 2017 - 01:02:02


You don't understand what you're talking about: 
1) unemployment rate in Thailand is extremely low, in April 2017 just 1.2%.
2) labour-intensive character of Thailand economy requires too many positions to be filled, and as labour supply is very short (see the 1) ), these vacancies can not be filled by Thais, that's a reason why few millions of guest workers from neighboring countries got their job
3) of is absolutely brainless economic policy p, under tight labor market conditions, to tighten labor supply even more; this, will lead not only to wage inflation for unskilled jobs(with a consequence of spreading inflation further afield to suppliers' prices in B2B and to tourism sector), that in turn will make Thailand less competitive on global stage, but also even further hinder escape of Thailand economy from so called "middle-income trap", as unskilled wages inflation even further disincentivize participation in the skilled sectors, and getting education for that - which is very big problem for Thailand for many years already, if you can cover well you basic needs and not only, doing menial jobs.

I am astonished by short-sightt of the policy makers in Bangkok, they do not see the obvious.

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Nasa12 | 07 July 2017 - 17:13:32

Yvonne@ YES YES YES AND YES 100% agree.

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Jor12 | 07 July 2017 - 16:04:19

Yvonne...I agree with you. All we hear from these employers is how this affecting their bottom line profits, by their exploitation workers in contravention of UN resolutions, which is similar to Mr Bhurritt who sits on the Tourism Ministry’s Tourism Development Board. His concern too is that it will affect production costs and the bottom line, increase costs and inflation. Never do we hear of the plight of the migrant workers.

"We want migrant workers who have experience for our construction projects" how are they going to get that experience if there are not prepared to offer training. Probably as it is reported "they do not have the human resources to deal with this."

Perhaps they should be providing better and safe working conditions and training and investing their profits on equipment to obviate the need for manual labour.

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yvonne | 07 July 2017 - 02:58:07

Nonsense. There are thousands of unemployed Thai people all over Thailand that can do the same work. . They MUST then bring in these THAI people from all over, instead of Foreigners from ALL OVER. They are doing this to AVOID PAYING Decent wages !! the Government must for ONCE NOT BUCKLE to the EXPLOITERS using all sort of excuses to make more BILLIONS for themselves. Put the THAI  PEOPLE FIRST for a change as CHARITY starts at home.!

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Foot | 06 July 2017 - 20:54:00

It would seem that these two employers should listened to.  Other than holding things up for more tea money, what reason would there be to delay?

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