An Employer has asked for money from Burmese Migrant Workers to make passports

Tuesday, 24 March 2009 07:43
A Thai employer has asked for money from a couple of his Burmese workers in order to make passports. There is an established agreement between the Thai and Myanmar Governments to issue passports for Burmese Migrant Workers who are working in Thailand.
On a plantation near the Suwar Lele park of Partaya town in Chunbula area of Southern Thailand, a male Thai-Chinese employer asked for 9600 baht from his workers Ko Aung Soe and his wife Ma Lone to make them passports with 3 years validity. They had already paid 8000 baht on March 18th but were made to pay another 1600 baht on March 21st.
“This plantation has 7 Burmese people working together. Two of us, my wife and myself, cannot speak Thai. The employer only asked the two of us to make passports. I thought that it could be true because he said so. So we paid 8000 baht yesterday and we have to pay the remainder on 21st of March. Our Migrant worker permit is registered and will be extended next month for another year. I get 160 baht and my wife gets 140 baht a day. We also have to spend money for food and accommodation. I think we can’t go back to our home for the rest of our life if we have to pay both for the Migrant worker permit registration and the passport. He took money from us, even though he didn’t do anything to make the passports” said by Ko Aung Soe.
Attempts to make passports for Burmese Migrant workers has rarely been successful since an agreement was made between the Thai and Myanmar Government since 2003. The Myanmar Government has announced it will issue passports for 200 workers a day at Myawaddy, Khaw Thaung and Tachi Late. Worker associations and observers expect that it will be impossible to limit the issuing of passports because millions of people are already working in Thailand as migrant workers. To issue them all with passports will take nearly a decade, especially since the Myanmar government is still only using paper work whilst Thais are using a computer system.
For Cambodia and Laos workers it is easy to get a passport because their embassy in Thailand is making legal passports for their workers so that the workers save money and time.
For Burmese Migrants the process has not been successful because many Burmese Migrants are living all across Thailand and they have to travel to one of only 3 places where they can be issued with a passport. There is no security for the migrants on the way there and they have to spend a lot of their time and money to make the journey.
Many of the Burmese Migrant workers are worried due to an official announcement by the Thai government that many work permits will not be extended for Migrant workers who register for an extension after February 2009.

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