Myanmar And Thailand Agree to Issue Documents to Migrant Laborers

Myanmar-Thailand bridge in Mae Sai

Myanmar-Thailand bridge in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai. Photo: Johnwxh30.

Myanmar and Thai labor ministers reached an agreement on Friday to issue official documents to Myanmar workers allowing them to work legally in the neighboring country two weeks after new Thai labor regulations took effect under which undocumented migrant laborers can be expelled.

The laws, which aim at tackling human trafficking concerns raised by the international community and resolving the growing problem of undocumented migrant workers in Thailand, caused an exodus of more than 60,000 foreign workers—many from neighboring Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia—fearing arrest.

The regulations, which went into effect on June 23, impose heavy fines on both Thai employers and foreign workers who lack work permits.

Thein Swe, Myanmar’s minister for labor, immigration and population, told reporters after his meeting with Thai labor minister General Sirichai Distakul in the capital Naypyidaw, that authorities in both countries will work together to ensure that Myanmar workers are documented to work legally in Thailand by rechecking their statuses between July 24 and August 7.

There will be no cost for the service for workers, and Myanmar will open six additional offices to issue certificates of identity (CI cards) to Myanmar laborers so they can work legally in Thailand, he said.

“Thai authorities will not take action against Burmese workers any more, even if they have no documents or incomplete documents,” Thein Swe said on Thursday.

“If authorities find undocumented workers, they will ask their bosses if the workers are employed at their businesses or not,” he said. “If they are, authorities will let these workers register [for proper documents],” he said.

Mobile teams of Thai authorities will issue CI cards for Myanmar migrant workers who cannot readily return to Myanmar because of long distances, he said. The mobile units will also work on Sundays, the day of the week when migrant workers have off.

“Then, Thai authorities will send us their registration documents, and these workers will be legal workers after we issue them passports or other legal documents,” Thein Swe said.

More than 180,000 of 3 million Myanmar workers have already been issued CIs, he said.

Full story:

Reported by Win Ko Ko Latt for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

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