Lost jobs when floods hit, may never get back wages employers kept. Lack of labour rights made them cheaper for some employers.
In photo above a labour officer checks lists of foreign workers who were evacuated to a Ratchaburi shelter. For some, it is the third time they have moved because of flooding—first from Don Mueang airport and then from Wat Rai Khing in Nakhon Pathom. (Photo: WASSAYOS NGAMKHAM)
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Foreign evacuees packed head to toe, Migrants yearn to leave, but want their pay first by Wassayos Ngamkham
RATCHABURI : Struggling with limited resources at the Ratchaburi evacuation centre, many foreign labourers want to return to their homelands if their bosses cannot help them get through the floods.
Up to 432 migrant workers, mainly male, from flooded factories in Ayutthaya, Pathum Thani, Nonthaburi, Nakhon Pathom and Bangkok are crammed into the centre.
"They have limited space to sleep. Their heads and feet now almost touch one another while sleeping," said Sgt Maj 1st Class Somphong Kaeowannakhadi, the centre's administration chief.
A Burmese worker, 23, whose name is pronounced in Thai as Phio Phio, cannot stand living with so many people forced to share limited facilities.
She wants to return to her home in Burma and wait there until floods subside before deciding whether to return.
But she wants her employer to pay her 9,000 baht in outstanding wages first.
Phio Phio and 70 workers at a rope-making factory in Phutthamonthon Sai 4 road in Nakhon Pathom recently left a flooded evacuation centre at Wat Rai Khing in Nakhon Pathom for Ratchaburi
Ratchaburi Institute of Skill Development is running their new home. Phio Phio and her Burmese boyfriend are gripped with fears of the floodwaters
"We had only five minutes to flee and lost most of our assets when the flood hit," said her boyfriend, 24
The Burmese workers make up 334 of the evacuees at the centre. The rest comprise 98 Cambodians.
Rueang, a Cambodian man aged 19, wants to go back to his home in Cambodia.
He will decide whether to return to work in Thailand when the situation returns to normal.
Rueang is contacting a van operator to take him back to Cambodia.
The young man said he could leave the evacuation centre immediately because his boss had paid him his outstanding wages.
Other workers at the centre are not so lucky.
They are being forced to stay at the centre even though they might have enough money to get home, as they want their bosses to pay them outstanding wages first.
Though the evacuation centre in Ratchaburi can take up to 500 people, officials say that with money and space restrictions, they have begun to worry they cannot receive more flood victims.
The cost of looking after evacuees is straining the centre's resources, and not enough help is coming from employers or the community.
"Employers must come to look after them. If they can't find them new places, they should at least help provide food and clear their unpaid wages," said Sgt Maj Somphong.
"I have to admit we don't have enough money and under the state policy, we need to take care of Thais first," Sgt Maj Somphong said.
The centre relies mainly on donations. It is also supported by some employers who give food to the evacuees.
Sgt Maj Somphong said he is looking for other places in Ratchaburi to be used as evacuation centres in case more foreign workers fall victim to the floods.
The number of evacuees at the centre is causing him concern, as the centre lacks space and money to care for them all. If new employers want to hire foreign workers as staff, he would be willing to let them go.
(Source: Bangkok Post, Foreign evacuees packed head to toe, Migrants yearn to leave, but want their pay first, 10/11/2011, Wassayos Ngamkham, link)
Taking care of abandoned foreign workers vocabulary
officer - a high level person in an organisation with special responsibilities (a government officer, a police officer, an army officer)
labour officer - a high-level worker at the Labour Ministry in charge of regulation of workers
shelter - a place where people are protected form danger or bad weather ที่หลบภัย ที่พักชั่วคราว
migrant - someone who travels to another place or country in order to find work (an immigrant is someone who comes to live in a country from another country) ผู้อพยพ (moving from one place to another อพยพ)
migrant workers - workers from other countries, foreign workers
yearn to leave - want very much to leave
migrants yearn to leave, but want their pay first
evacuation - moving people from a place of danger to a safer place การอพยพ
evacuee - people who have left a dangerous place (to stay at a safer place)
concern - a worry ความกังวล
the number of evacuees at the centre is causing him concern
packed - crowded; full of people or things แน่น
packed head to toe
foreign evacuees packed head to toe
cram - to put many things in a small space (where they don't fit, very crowded)
crammed into the centre
limited space to sleep
resources - things such as money, workers and equipment that can be used to get a job done, to help achieve something ทรัพยากร ทรัพยากรที่มีอยู่
struggling with limited resources
homeland - your country (the country that you were born in and that you are a citizen of)
help them get through the floods - give what they need during the floods: place to live and sleep, food, etc ...
many foreign labourers want to return to their homelands if their bosses cannot help them get through the floods
administration - managing, supervising, overseeing some activity (to make sure no problems) การบริหาร
centre's administration chief
pronounce - the sound of words in a language, the way that words are said ออกเสียง
her name is pronounced in Thai as Phio Phio
cannot stand - do not some situation (find it difficult to bear or tolerate, difficult to continue being in this situation)
share - to have or use something at the same time as someone else ใช้ร่วมกัน
facilities - the buildings, equipment and services provided for a particular purpose สิ่งอำนวยความสะดวก สถานที่และสิ่งอำนวยความสะดวก
limited facilities - limited buildings and equipment to do some task (such as take care of abandoned foreign migrant workers)
share limited facilities
cannot stand living with so many people forced to share limited facilities.
subside - go down, sink to a lower level จมลง
floods subside before deciding whether to return
employer - a person, company, or organisation that pays someone to work for them as a member of their staff นายจ้าง
outstanding - not yet complete (not finished, not paid yet)
wages - the amount of money earned per hour by a worker
outstanding wages - money that a company has not paid to its workers yet (for work already done, money owed to the workers)
she wants her employer to pay her 9,000 baht in outstanding wages first
rope - long and strong material for tieing and binding things เชือก
grip - hold tight จับ, ยึด, เกาะ, ฉวย, การยึดเกาะ, การฉวย, การจับ
gripped with fears of the floodwaters
flee - to leave a dangerous or unpleasant situation quickly; to escape หนี อพยพ
assets - a thing of value with an owner ทรัพย์สิน things owned, especially property and money สินทรัพย์
we had only five minutes to flee and lost most of our assets when the flood hit
comprise - to consist or be made up of two or more things ประกอบด้วย
the rest comprise 98 Cambodians
when the situation return to normal
he will decide whether to return to work in Thailand when the situation returns to normal
immediately - happening right after something else with no delay; right away ทันที
he could leave the evacuation centre immediately because his boss had paid him his outstanding wages
not so lucky - not as lucky as other people
restriction - a limit on what you can do, situation where you cannot do anything you want การยับยั้ง
money and space restrictions
victims - people who are harmed in some way from an accident, natural disaster, crime, etc.
strain- a strong force that may cause something to break or fail to function anymore (do what it is supposed to do)
straining the centre's resources - using lots of resources (to the point of failure or breaking)
the cost of looking after evacuees is straining the centre's resources
community - local people, all the people who live in a local area or place ชุมชน
provide - to give someone something that they want or need
employers must come to look after them. If they can't find them new places, they should at least help provide food and clear their unpaid wages
admit - to agree that something is true, especially when you are unhappy, sorry or surprised about it ยอมรับ
I have to admit we don't have enough money
state - government รัฐ
policy - a set of plans or action agreed on by a government, political party, business, or other group นโยบาย
policy - a plan of action to guide decisions and achieve outcomes (See Wikipedia)
under the state policy, we need to take care of Thais first
donations - money given by people to help some project or organisation financially
the centre relies mainly on donations
victim - someone who has been affected by a bad situation, such as an illness or an accident เหยื่อผู้เคราะห์ร้าย
fall victim to the floods.
looking for other places in Ratchaburi to be used as evacuation centres in case more foreign workers fall victim to the floods
staff - workers, employees พนักงาน
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