With industrial development still some years off in Myanmar, Nyapyidaw’s concern at present is to ensure that migrant workers receive standard rights protection, because their remittances have helped shape the growing economy, Myanmar Deputy Labour Minister Myint Thein said in Bangkok on Friday.
Migrant workers from neighboring countries use sewing machines on a production line at a clothing company in Bangkok. (Photo EPA)
At his first press conference with Bangkok-based media, Myint Thein took a taken positive but realistic view of the situation of Myanmar workers in Thailand.
“Certainly there are lots of problems. There are about two million of our people working here. For the documented workers, it’s easier for us to raise their problems with the Thai authorities, but for the undocumented workers it’s still difficult,” he said.
Myint Thein said that access to information about the migrant workers’ situation has been much better in recent years. Not only have Thai officials been more cooperative, but information from multilateral organisations and non-government organisations has helped highlight their circumstances.
“There has been some improvement. Before I could talk only with people in the Mahachai [Samut Sakhon] cases, but now we get more information on problems elsewhere such as in Songkhla and Kanchanaburi,” Myanmar’s deputy labour minister said.
He was speaking after a meeting with the Thai deputy labour minister, vice minister for foreign affairs and head of the immigration bureau to clear the last hurdle for a nationality verification and passport-visa issuing office to finally begin working.
The first Thaksin administration initiated the nationality verification process with Myanmar in 2004 and a year later Myanmar gradually sent officials to work with Thai officials at Kawthaung (opposite Ranong), Tachilek (bordering Chiang Rai) and Myawaddy (bordering Tak).
From 2005 to 2009, about 750,000 passports were issued to workers from Myanmar, Myint Thein said.
Myanmar’s Deputy Labour Minister Myint Thein (Photos by Patipat Janthong)
Another 750,000 migrant workers were waiting to complete the nationality verification process. However, there remained another 500,000 undocumented workers who have yet to be included in the process, he said.
Resolving the migrant problems was a cumbersome and difficult process, he conceded. His government on March 30 last year set up a special committee co-chaired by labour and border affairs ministers to tackle internal and overseas migration issues.
After Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s visit to Myanmar in October last year, President Thein Sein agreed to send another five teams to work inside Thailand to facilitate this migrant management process. Continue reading “Myanmar-Burma Labour Minister Myint Thein “Migrant labour conditions slowly improving””