30 March 2022
Subject: Recommendations for the management of foreign workers in Tak Special Economic Zone
- Minister of Labour
- Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Labour
- Director General of Department of Employment
- Director of Foreign Workers Administration Office
On 9 March 2022, the Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF) and the Migrant Working Group (MWG) conducted a workshop to disseminate information and develop policy proposals on the procedure to review the application for the right to reside and to work in the Kingdom and to apply for a Certificate of Identity (CI) as well as to be employed in Tak’s Mae Sot District. It was participated by representatives from the state sector, business sector, academic sector, NGOs and workers to listen to policies concerning the management of foreign workers.
At the meeting, presentations have been made to shed light on the framework of operation and challenges faced by public agencies including the Department of Employment, the Department of Labour Protection and Welfare, the Social Security Office, and the Immigration Bureau. It was found out that migrant workers in Tak have been employed in various forms of registration barring the registration of fishery workers pursuant to the Royal Ordinance on Fisheries BE 2558 (2015)’s Section 83.
In light of the improvement of the policies concerning the registration of migrant workers in the wake of the impacts from the Covid-19, it has given rise to the registration and work permit renewal, or other services concerning personal documents of the workers, particularly the application for CI from the government of Myanmar being made available outside Tak Province. Workers who want to travel to apply for the documents are highly vulnerable to arrests or investigation since Tak still imposes travel restriction as a response to the pandemic. The workers could also be vulnerable to contracting the disease during their travel. This has affected both the workers and their employers in terms of expenses, exposure to the disease, and their inability to get registered to renew their work permit within the deadline according to the policies. At the meeting, after brainstorming, some recommendations have been made and MWG and HRDF would like to bring them to your attention hoping they will help you to improve your policies which are more responsive the problems and challenges as follows;
- The workers who have acquired work permits pursuant to the Cross Border Employment policy and Section 64 of the Royal Ordinance Concerning the Management of Foreign Workers’ Employment benefit from the cabinet resolution made on 4 August 2020 which allows them to continue living and working here until 31 March 2022. But given the outbreak of Covid-19 and the ongoing armed conflicts in Myanmar, access to the application of border pass has become more challenging and it has heightened the risks for those who travel for work across the border and other impacts on the employment and business sector.
The meeting proposes that the government extend the right to work and stay in Thailand to until 13 February 2023 or until the Border Checkpoints between Thailand and Myanmar in Tak are open to the transfer of individuals between the two countries.
- The workers who are allowed to get registered according to the cabinet resolution or the workers imported pursuant to the G-to-G MoU need to apply, or renew their permits, or extend their stay and apply for CI, but there are currently only five Centers to accept the registration. Those who live in remote area find it hard to have access to the Centers and it will thereby increase their expenses and their risk to contract Covid-19.
The meeting proposes that the Thai government coordinates with representatives of the Myanmar government in Thailand to offer mobile services for the application of CI and other personal documents. This can be done in coordination with the Offices of Employment and concerned authorities to offer onsite services to the migrant workers at various places. This can help to reduce the time and expenses and helps to contain the spread of Covid-19.
- As to the workers who have to get registered as required by the government policies and to revise their personal records, it has been found that these workers have never had a passport or CI issued by their country of origin. But according to the existing requirements, the Centers can only issue CI to those who have had their previous Cis. As a result, the workers who have never had CIs cannot apply for one and risk becoming undocumented.
The meeting proposes that the government should allow the workers without previous Certificate of Identity (CI) to apply for the documents at the Certificate of Identity (CI) Centers and this should be considered part of the Nationality Verification.
- According to the numbers of migrant workers supposed to get registered with the Department of Employment, the Ministry of Labour, about one million of them have missed out from the official register. And according to reports, many undocumented workers or those missing out from the register have been put under arrests. The meeting therefore proposes that the Department of Employment develops a policies for labour registration or to address the problem regarding the migrant workers who have become undocumented during the Covid-19 Pandemic.
Please be informed and consider improving the policies concerning the management of foreign workers to ensure a safe migration with no one being left behind and according to the commitment the Thai government pledged during the Intergovernmental Conference on the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular (GCM)
Coordinator of Migrant Working Group
For more information, please contact Mr. Adisorn Kerdmongkhol, Migrant Working Group’s Coordinator, phone 089 788 7138 or email [email protected] or Raweeporn Dokmai, 082 901 5357 [email protected]