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Migrant worker verifications to be extended

Dec 28. 2017
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By The Nation

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NATIONAL verification for migrant workers would be extended for three months, as some 1 million people are still to go through the process, Labour Minister Adul Saengsingkaew said yesterday.

Cabinet approval will be sought next week for the proposal to extend the deadline from March 31 to June 30, he said. 

The enforcement of the new migrant worker management law might also be postponed from January 1 next year until the completion of the national verification process, he said.

“The Cabinet has already been informally told about the enforcement of the law, hence we have instructed the relevant agencies and officials not to arrest any undocumented migrants,” he said.

He denied that the national verification process was too slow, pointing to the huge number of migrant workers in the country.

The ministry manages to process 900-1,200 applications for national verification per day, Labour Ministry director-general of the employment department, Anurak Tossarat, said.

Nearly 2 million migrants workers from neighbouring Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia need to be registered before being allowed to work in Thailand. There are 1.2 million migrant workers from Myanmar, 616, 282 from Cambodia, and 159,313 from Laos. The ministry has already completed verification of nationalities and documentation of 1,041,043 people, he said.

National verification for migrant workers stirred a controversy in November when Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha blamed the former director of the employment department for the slow progress and demoted him to an inactive post, prompting the surprise resignation of General Sirichai Distakul as labour minister.

Prayut exercised his absolute powers under Article 44 to restructure migrant worker management, setting up a new committee to take care of the task. 

The new committee is chaired by the permanent secretary of the Interior Ministry, Chatchai Promlert. Its members include officials from not only the Labour Ministry but also the Foreign and Interior ministries, as well as police. 

National verification is compulsory for migrant worker documentation after the current military-backed government issued a new law on migrant worker management, stipulating tough punishment for use of illegal migrant workers. 

According to the new foreign labour law, employers of illegal migrants could face a hefty fine of Bt400,000-Bt800,000 per migrant worker if found to have violated the law. 

The government has decided to delay enforcement after panic migrants fled back home due to fear of tough punishment. 

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