Migrant Workers Rush for Work Permits as Four Days Remain

July 11th, 2011

Jaloon Htaw, Independent Mon News Agency – Many ethnic Mon, Karen, and Tavoyan migrant workers in the agricultural, fishing, and construction industries in the central areas of Thailand are rushing to complete the process of applying for permits to work in the kingdom legally. Only four days remain to complete the procedure.

The Thai Ministry of Labour has granted illegal migrant workers from Burma (Myanmar), Laos, and Cambodia a one-month period from 15 June to 15 July to legalize their status and complete proper work permit documents.

Thousands of illegal workers from Burma poured into Thai administration offices with their employers to apply for work permits.

“Although there are only four days remaining, there are still many workers coming to apply for permission,” said a social worker from a labour protection agency in Bangkok.

A female migrant worker said that she paid about 6,000 baht ($200 US) in order to get a work permit through a local agent or liaison person.

“I had to spend more because I worked through an agent. If I went by myself to the [administrative] office, I might have had to pay 4,000 Baht. But this was easy. I didn’t have to take time off from my job. At the end of this month, I may go to Bangkok to make a passport,” explained a female migrant worker who received a work permit in Sangkhalaburi District of Kanchanaburi Province.

The Thai government has tried to legalize all migrant workers by allowing them to make work permits, and then ‘temporary passports’. After obtaining work permits, the migrant workers can contact agents to help them make passports with work permit visas valid for two years.

A social worker confirmed that, “Many migrant workers have come and made these work permit documents. They know that without work permits, they can’t make a passport. Therefore, they came and made the work permits. This is a good sign.”

In order to get a work permit, a migrant worker needs the recommendation of an employer, and they also need to have the results of blood tests and health insurance. According to a source from Burma’s passport office, the validity of temporary passports for migrant workers will be extended to three years, and later to six years.

According to a labour protection agency in Thailand, there have been about 500,000 migrant workers who came and made work permits in various administration offices in Thailand during the current one-month period, and many of them came from Burma (Myanmar).

The Thai government has registered about 1.6 million foreign migrant workers in total, and now many of them also have temporary passports. Legalization has improved the protection and rights of migrants workers, said the social worker.

The Thai Ministry of Labour instructed the immigration and police departments to announce that there would be no arrests of illegal migrant workers attempting to obtain work permits. The Ministry of Labour expected that one million migrant workers would register within the one-month period.


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