Asean labour ministers back Thailand’s new migrant law

Asean labour ministers back Thailand’s new migrant law

An employer takes her migrant worker to the Labour Department for reginstration on July 24, 2017. (Photo by Apichart Jinakul)

Labour Minister Sirichai Distakul joined Asean ministers to sign the CLMVT (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand) Joint Declaration on Safe Migration to strengthen regional efforts to end decades of illegal labour in five Southeast Asian nations.

The pact formed at last week’s ministerial meeting on labour affairs in Da Nang, Vietnam, affirms Thailand’s neighbouring nations’ support of the government’s latest effort to crack down on illegal migrant workers, said Gen Sirichai after the three-day meeting that ended on Thursday.

Labour ministers from the CLMVT countries agree that the safe and legal migration of foreign workers is possible if each government commits to legal procedures through bilateral agreements.

Thailand is a popular destination for foreign workers, especially those from Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos.

The Thai government’s latest moves in migrant law are meant to bring the country’s labour standards up to par with international standards.

Among the new legal requirements involves hiring migrant workers under a memorandum of understanding forged between the workers’ home country and Thailand.

Migrant workers can report to register for legal work permits until Monday.

Together with their bosses, they will be interviewed to prove their legal employment in 30 days. After this, they will have their nationalities verified, said Employment Department chief Waranon Pitiwan.

At the CLMVT meeting, labour ministers lent Gen Sirichai their support to the national verification plans.

Myanmar’s Labour, Immigration and Population Minister U Thein Swe vowed to increase the number of migrant monitoring officials and to provide “mobile verification” as authorities expect there could be up to 350,000 Myanmar workers who require registration, said Gen Sirichai.

Lao Labour and Social Welfare Minister Khampheng Saysompheng says his country plans to carry out the nationality verification process without having unlicensed workers return to Laos. He added that he expects the number of undocumented Lao workers is about 60,000.

After migrants have passed the nationality verification stage, they will obtain the Certificate of Identity papers that are required for visa applications and work permits.

Migrant workers in Thailand have until Jan 1 of next year to register without facing the full penalty of the new decree.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s government wants employers and workers to have time to fully legalise their practices.

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