16 June 2022
Department of Employment’s response to Migrant Working Group
Regarding the management of foreign workers in Tak Special Economic Zone
Pursuant to the Migrant Working Group (MWG)’s and the Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF)’s letter on “Recommendations for the management of foreign workers in Tak Special Economic Zone” addressed to the Minister of Labour, the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Labour, the Director General of the Department of Employment and the Director of the Foreign Workers Administration Office on 30 March 2022 and the recommendations have been compiled from a seminar and consultation among state sector, employers, academics, NGOs and representatives of workers (for more detail, please see http://hrdfoundation.org/?p=2731 ) Later, the Director General of the Department of Employment has sent a letter dated 7 June 2022 to the Coordinator of the Migrant Working Group (MWG) in response to the various points raised, which can be summarized as follows;
- The workers who are holders of labour cards issued pursuant to the Border Employment Policy invoking Section 64 of the Royal Ordinance Concerning the Management of Foreign Workers’ Employment, benefit from a reprieve following the cabinet resolution on 4 August 2020 which allow them to stay on and work until 31 March 2022. But given the Covid-19 pandemic and armed conflicts in Myanmar, their access to border pass has become more challenging. There is a risk for them to cross the border and this has affected the state of employment and business.
At the meeting, it has been proposed that the government consider extending their right to stay and work in Thailand to until 13 February 2023 or until the Thailand-Myanmar Border Checkpoint in Tak is opened and individuals are allowed to commute between the two countries.
The Department of Employment has informed us that the Committee for COVID-19 Situation Administration in its meeting no. 3/2022, Friday 11 February 2022, has acknowledged the progress of the importation of foreign workers from Cambodia and Myanmar to work invoking Section 64 of the Royal Ordinance in eight provinces including Tak, similar to the importation of workers from Cambodia to work invoking Section 64 in Chanthaburi (https://covid.chanthaburi.go.th/files/com_announce/2021-12_82dd2589eeeaf65.pdf ) And if the workers can produce a proof of being fully vaccinated against Covid-19 or having tested for Covid-19 through RT-PCT, they shall be exempted from a quarantine.
- The migrant workers who have not been registered pursuant to the cabinet resolution or the workers imported via MoU and are required to renew their work permits, their right to stay, and to apply for Certificate of Identity (CI), but given that there are only five service centers, it makes it challenging for those living far from the centers and increases their expenses as well as makes them more vulnerable to Covid-19 infection.
At the meeting, it has been proposed that the Thai government coordinate with representatives of the Myanmar government to issue Mobile Certificate of Identity (CI) and to coordinate with the Office of Employment and concerned agencies to offer services to foreign workers at the service points to ensure the workers and their employers have access to the services to reduce time and expense and to contain the spread of Covid-19.
The Department of Employment has informed us that the Myanmar authorities have sent a letter via a diplomatic channel revealing their plan to enhance the issuing of CI documents and the Department of Employment has via a letter informed the Governors of all provinces and the Directors of the Bangkok Offices of Employment Region 1-10 to publicized and keep the employers/workplaces informed already.
- For the workers who have been registered in compliance with the government’s policy and are required to improve their personal documents, it has been found that there are workers who have never had a passport or CI issued in their countries of origin, but according to the present criteria, the Service Centers would only issue CIs to those who still get hold of their previous CIs. As a result, the workers who have never had CIs are not eligible to apply for ones and it is possible that they will become undocumented and illegal workers.
At the meeting, it has been proposed that the government allow the workers who have never had CIs to apply for ones at the Certificate of Identity Centers treating it as part of the National Verification.
The Department of Employment has informed us that The issuing of CIs or the nationality verification is the procedure carried out in the countries. At present, the authorities in Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia have not responded to a request to conduct nationality verification and to issue CIs to their own nationals who do not have such documents while staying in Thailand. It is likely that these foreigners have to return to their countries to apply for CIs. Otherwise, if their permission to stay in the Kingdom has expired, they have to return to their countries as well.
- According to the presentation of the figures of migrant workers registered with the Ministry of Labour’s Department of Employment, it has been found that nearly one million migrant workers have been missed out from the register. And according to media reports, there have been a number of arrests of undocumented workers or those who have missed out from the register.
At the meeting, it has been proposed that the Department of Employment consider and propose policy of labour registration or to solve the problem concerning the many migrant workers who have become undocumented during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Department of Employment has informed us that At the meeting of the Committee on the Policy and the Administration of the Employment of Foreigners on 19 May 2022, it has approved the administration of foreigners from four countries (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Viet Nam) who are undocumented, and they are allowed to continue staying and working in the Kingdom, although this proposal needs further approval from the cabinet.
For more information, please contact Mr. Adisorn Kerdmongkhol, Migrant Working Group’s Coordinator, phone 089 788 7138 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or Ms. Raweeporn Dokmai, 082 901 5357, email@example.com