Recruiters seek OK to place offshore ads
Tough anti-fraud laws 'hold back jobs'
Disrupted by protective labour laws, overseas job placement firms have lobbied the Ministry of Labour to revise regulations to allow them to advertise job opportunities online to recruit job seekers in advance.
Aranya Sakulkosol, chairwoman of Thai Overseas Manpower Association (Toma), said the labour laws hurt job placement firms and government should revise the laws to help.
Under the current rules, advertisements for overseas jobs are permitted only after the vacant positions are examined and verified by the Foreign Ministry.
"These measures hamper recruitment of workers for overseas jobs and pose obstacles amid increased competition for migrant labour in the global market,"she told the Bangkok Post.
Founded in 2003, Toma has 83 members, down from 134 originally.
Overseas job placement agencies have suffered during the last decade, she said.
Many firms closed after countries that export and import labourers turned to job placements between governments or memorandum of understanding (MoU) frameworks instead.
These firms reportedly were perceived as villains, as unscrupulous firms have been implicated in labour fraud, overcharging or even human trafficking.
They are also seen as a financial burden for labourers as some charged the exorbitant fees of 150,000-300,000 baht for placement.
The current labour laws are created to keep these companies in check.
Yet the policy has created a backlash as job seekers reportedly have complained they found it more difficult to access the government's job export schemes.
The government also has been critcised for working slowly and lacking manpower.
Last month, Toma appealed to Minister of Labour, MR Chatu Mongol Sonakul, for help.
A committee has been set up to find solutions.
Ms Aranya said the government should not be worried about the trustworthiness issue as new innovations can help track and verify fraud.
She said online job advertising should be considered because it will help reduce the costs of employing a network of sub-agents, noting this can also lead to a reduction of service fees for job seekers.
"The prohibitive rules have erected obstacles that prevent Thailand from competing with other countries in exporting labour," she said, adding the labour market need job placement firms to help export workers.
Gen Nanthadech Meksawat, secretary to the labour minister overseeing the issue, said the ministry has taken Toma's complaints into account, and the sub-commitee has studied the problem.
"But it is about time too that these overseas job placement firms adjust. Some laws need to be maintained to protect job seekers," he said.
Suchart Pornwisetchaikul, director-general of the Employment Department, said that next year the department has set a target of sending about 100,000 Thai workers abroad.
In the first 10 months of this year, Thailand sent 97,597 workers abroad, with Taiwan receiving the biggest number of 27,226 workers.
Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, and Israel are top destinations for Thai workers and these countries have relied on government-to-government and the state MoU framework to meet their labour needs.
The Labour Ministry has a policy to maintain labour markets in these key countries, said Mr Suchart.
Next year, the ministry plans to send skilled labor and semi-skilled labour to work in the construction and service sectors in these four countries.