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Confusion reigns as migrant worker deadline nears


EMPLOYMENT DEPARTMENT REFUSES TO EXTEND REGISTRATION PERIOD

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MIGRANT WORKERS, employers and NGOs have highlighted problems with the ongoing nationwide registration process and urged the Labour Ministry to extend the registration period.
As the current registration period ends next Saturday, as many as 900,000 migrant workers still have not registered for work permits and visas, prompting the Migrant Working Group to release an open letter last Friday urging the Labour Ministry to extend the period to avoid excluding many workers.
Migrant Working Group coordinator Adisorn Kerdmongkhol said yesterday that congestion at worker registration centres in the last week was not because workers and employers had been too careless to register early, but resulted from problems at the One-Stop Service (OSS) centres and confusion over the registration system.
“We have noticed problems since the early weeks of the registration period that there were problems with cooperation among the relevant agencies working in OSS centres, making migrant workers and employers confused about the registration, so they waited until everything became clearer,” Adisorn said.
“This problem is because the Labour Ministry allowed too short a period of time for the registration of nearly 2 million migrant workers, combined with a failure in providing clear information about the registration system. In the end, the ministry has to sort out the solutions for the problems at hand, but cannot solve the problems in the big picture.”
An employer of migrant workers in Bangkok, Phisit Jengsrivong, said even though he had only three migrant workers from Myanmar working for him, he had been working on their registration since early March.
Phisit said the OSS centre earlier had not really provided a one-stop service, as his workers had to go to the hospital for a health check-up, which wasted a lot of time there before they could go to an OSS centre to follow up with the registration procedures.

Problem provinces
Adisorn added that from an assessment of problems in registration, not all provinces had congestion problems and areas with the most severe issues were in provinces that had large populations of migrant workers, such as Bangkok, Samut Prakan, Samut Sakhon and Chiang Mai.
He also said short-term measures recently announced by the Labour Ministry would not entirely solve the problem, as by his estimation there would still be many migrant workers who could not register in time. 
He also warned that new registration procedures would still leave the problem for the future, because the police might arrest workers who still had not completed their registrations by the deadline, even though they had already reported to the Labour Ministry to finish their registrations later.
He asked the Labour Ministry to extend the registration period in the provinces that had problems to make sure that there would not be migrant workers who wanted to work legally in Thailand forced to work illegally.

Confusion reigns as migrant worker deadline nears
However, Employment Department director-general Anurak Tossarat said the Labour Ministry would not extend the registration period, because that would merely prolong the problems because employers and migrant workers would procrastinate their registrations.
The Labour Ministry started it registration of migrant workers on February 5 and expected it to be completed by March 31. The registration is meant to enable migrant workers who have not come to Thailand under memoranda of understanding to legally register for two-year work permits.

Published : March 25, 2018

By : PRATCH RUJIVANAROM THE NATION