Bilateral committee to discuss Thailand’s new employment rules

Myanmar and Thailand are have agreed at high-level talks to establish a committee to address labour problems arising from the kingdom’s new migrant worker rules, the Bangkok Post reported on July 8.

The decision to create the joint working committee was made by the Minister for Labour, Immigration and Population, U Thein Swe, and his Thai counterpart, General Sirichai Distakul, at a meeting in Nay Pyi Taw on July 7, the newspaper said in an online report.

The meeting followed confusion over the tough new rules for migrant workers, announced on June 23, the daily said.

Thailand’s military junta was forced to suspend enforcement of the rules for 120 days amid chaotic scenes after tens of thousands of frightened migrant workers returned to their home countries, the Bangkok Post said.

It quoted Mr Varanon Peetiwan, the director-general of Thailand’s Employment Department, as saying on July 8 that Myanmar had been asked to speed up the issuing of certificates of identity so its citizens could work legally in the kingdom. The certificates are issued to those who do not have passports.

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Varanon said Myanmar had also been asked to set up identity verification centres in border areas to check workers returning to Thailand, where they could be issued with visas and permits to work in the kingdom.

There are an estimated four million migrant workers in Thailand, mainly from Myanmar, and about half are believed to be in the kingdom illegally, partly because of a costly and cumbersome registration process, the daily said.

The decree introducing the new rules was announced suddenly and included fines of up to 800,000 baht (about K31.7 million) for employers who hire unregistered foreigners without work permits.

Employers stopped hiring undocumented workers, triggering the exodus of foreign workers and leading to a labour shortage in Thailand.

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