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Unverified migrants to get an extension

Dec 24. 2012
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Three-month 'grace' for workers from Myanmar after confusion on deadline


The government will today offer a three-month moratorium to the 266,677 migrant workers from Myanmar and other neighbouring countries who failed to meet the December 14 deadline for nationality verification, the Employment Department said yesterday.

Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung will chair a meeting for migrant labour management to consider the proposal.

If the committee agrees, the migrant workers would not be deported but get an extra three months for their employers to process a work permit for them, Pravit Keangpol, director-general of the department at the Labour Ministry, said.

Now, employers wanting to hire workers from Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar have to submit a name list and a request for a hiring quota to the department within a month, he said.

The workers have to pay a Bt500 fee for an entry visa plus Bt3,600 for a two-year work permit, he said.

The ministry would take about two months to check their legal status and other necessary details with their countries of origin.

But workers must show they are fit enough to work in Thailand by obtaining a medical certificate from the Thai Public Health Ministry, he said. The department is considering cooperating with the three neighbouring countries to set up one-stop service centres, he said.

There has been great confusion over the past week among workers, officials and foreign governments after Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra appeared to tell Myanmar President Thein Sein when she met him in Dawei that Thailand would extend the deadline for nationality verification by three months.

As of December 14, some 1.2 |million workers from Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar had registered here and completed the verification procedures. Then Thai authorities declared that the verification process was over and unverified migrant workers would be deported.

President Thein Sein dispatched his labour minister U Maung Myint to Bangkok over the weekend to meet with his Thai counterpart Phadermchai Sasomsap on the matter. The two countries had planned to sign a memorandum of understanding for worker exchanges but it was postponed indefinitely as Myanmar learned later there was no extension of the deadline for work verification.

Labour officials said Myanmar officials misinterpreted Yingluck’s statement. The deadline was not extended but there would be some relaxation for three months, they claimed.

However the government’s website yesterday quoted Yingluck as informing Thein Sein that the Thai government would extend the deadline for migrant workers from Myanmar, Lao and Cambodia for three months from December 14 to facilitate their status update as legal workers in Thailand.

Disappointed, U Maung Myint left Bangkok for Nay Pyi Taw yesterday, according to an official at the Myanmar Embassy.

The Myanmar government had expressed high expectations for the Thai migrant labour policy, as it is the biggest source of workers for Thailand. Myanmar official media highlighted Yingluck’s statement on the deadline extension over the past week.

More than two million people from various countries are now working in Thailand but most hold no papers due to the complexity of Thai legal procedures and unclear policies.

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