For immediate release on 7 February 2020
Tak labor inspector ordering employer to pay over ten million baht to 71 migrant workers from Myanmar for breach of Labor Protection Law
On 30 January 2020, the Tak labor inspector of the Tak Office of Labor Welfare and Protection issued an order no. 2/2563 dated 20 January 2020 for Mr. Thawatchai Rodkaew, the employer, to make the payment for outstanding wage, pay on working on public holiday, overtime pay on working day, overtime pay for working on public holidays, severance pay and a compensation in lieu of advance notice, altogether 10,298,124 baht to 71 migrant employees from Myanmar.
The case stems from a complaint filed by the migrant workers on 22 November 2019 with the Tak labor inspector of the Office of Labor Welfare and Protection in Mae Sot, Tak, in which they claim that their employer, Mr. Thawatchai Rodkaew, owner of Thai TG Group Factory in Mae Sot, Tak, which produces electronic parts, has terminated their employment and close down the plant. In their complaint to the Tak labor inspector, they demand the employer pay them outstanding wage, pay on working on public holiday, overtime pay on working day, overtime pay for working on public holidays, severance pay and a compensation in lieu of advance notice. After reviewing the case, the Tak labor inspector has therefore instructed the employer to award the employees the amount of money.
The employees and the employers still retain the right seek judicial recourse to rescind this order, if they are not satisfied with the order of the Tak labor inspector this time. The complaint to the Court has to be filed within thirty days though. And if it is the employer who brings the case to the court, he is required to place 10,298,124 baht as a deposit with the Court.
The Chairperson of the Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF), Mr. Somchai Homlaor, deems that until now the management of foreign workers from Thailand’s neighboring countries has seen gradual improvement. A number of migrant workers have been turned into legal workers via nationality verification process and the labor recruit through the MOU between the states. Although some improvement of the existing measures is warranted, but they have thus far made it possible for safe migration and the protection of worker from exploitation and trafficking in person.
Nevertheless, HRDF finds the Royal Ordinance Concerning the Management of Foreign Workers’ Employment 2017’s Section 64 which allows “foreign workers being of nationality of the countries having common boundary with Thailand to enter into the Kingdom with border pass or document issued by the country of origin for the purpose of entering the Kingdom in order to get employed temporarily through the specified period or season within the designated areas” offers a leeway for employers in Mae Sot and nearby vicinities close to the border with Myanmar including the area declared as Special Economic Zone since 2014 to recruit workers from Myanmar to work based on the 90-day-border pass. Given that the border pass can be renewed every 90 days, it has enabled the workers to work perpetually including in the electronic parts and garment factories, even though such work does not constitute “work in specific projects” or “seasonal work” specified in Section 118/4 of the Labor Protection Act 2018.
Moreover, some officials of concerned authorities have been found to fail to properly enforce labor protection and social security laws by claiming or assuming the employment pursuant to Section 64 is temporary work and therefore the employers are not required to enroll their workers into the social security system and to pay contribution to the Fund as well as to have the power to terminate their employment without having to make the severance payment. Such legal loophole and lax enforcement have encouraged employers to opt for employing a lot of migrant workers from Myanmar invoking Section 64 and it has made the migrant workers more vulnerable to labor violation by their employers.
Given the dire situation, the Thai government and employer associations are urged to review the policies, laws and practice regarding border employment made possible by Section 64 of the Royal Ordinance Concerning the Management of Foreign Workers’ Employment since it has made migrant workers from neighboring countries vulnerable to the violation of their rights and egregious exploitation by the employers. The government and employer associations are also urged to develop the Phase One of the National Business and Human Rights Policy and Action Plan (2019-2022) https://mk0globalnapshvllfq4.kinstacdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/nap-thailand-en.pdf and ensure they are put into practice.
For more information, please contact Ms. Jirarat Moonsiri, attorney, 089 273 4711