Conflict fuelling Thai jobseekers

Conflict fuelling Thai jobseekers

A file photo shows Myanmar nationals submitting visa applications at the Tak Immigration Office in Mae Sot district in order that they can enter Thailand.
A file photo shows Myanmar nationals submitting visa applications at the Tak Immigration Office in Mae Sot district in order that they can enter Thailand.

People from Myanmar are expected to flock to Thailand to seek jobs, following the impact of the years-long internal conflict in the neighbouring country, says the Employers' Confederation of Thai Trade and Industry (EconThai).

The military staged a coup to topple the elected government in 2021 and the junta now needs to strengthen its army via conscription in order to deal with an anti-government insurgency.

This will cause many Myanmar citizens who do not want to get drafted to head for Thailand, with many of them expected to end up working illegally.

The situation could affect Thailand's labour market, so the government needs to pay greater heed to work-related matters such as the working status and job applications of citizens of Myanmar, said Tanit Sorat, vice-chairman of EconThai.

People from neighbouring countries are usually allowed to work in Thailand under a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the source country and the Thai government.

Thailand has relied on migrant workers from neighbouring countries who typically carry out menial jobs, such as "dirty, difficult and dangerous" jobs, often referred to as the 3Ds. Thais do not wish to do these jobs.

"We need migrant workers in many industries and the agricultural sector," said Mr Tanit.

According to EconThai, workers from Myanmar are employed in a range of industries including food processing, electronics, auto parts, tyres, garments and textiles, fisheries, sugar cane, rubber, and construction.

Most work in Bangkok or in the provinces of Samut Sakhon, Pathum Thani and Nakhon Pathom.

At present, there are around 2.3 million workers from Myanmar, the largest group of migrant workers from neighbouring countries in Thailand.

Many migrant workers from Myanmar enter under the MoU between the two countries, while others are allowed to work in Thailand under the cabinet's approval.

"This number excludes illegal workers. If this group of workers were included, the total number of workers from Myanmar would be 4 million," said Mr Tanit.

The political conflict in Myanmar also affects border trade as businesses need to change transportation routes and face additional logistics expenses.

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