Government pushes to document all migrants

Government pushes to document all migrants

Hopes to solve illegal labour woes by 2022

Migrant workers report to immigration authorities. The government estimates there are 1.34 million undocumented migrants in Thailand.
Migrant workers report to immigration authorities. The government estimates there are 1.34 million undocumented migrants in Thailand.

The government has vowed to continue its push for the remaining 1.34 million undocumented migrant workers to have their nationalities verified by 2022, Defence Ministry spokesman Kongcheep Tantrawanit says.

Maj Gen Kongcheep said that legalisation of migrant workers is still under way to achieve the government's goal of reducing the number of illegal migrants from a million to zero by 2022.

"We need to deal with the migrant worker problems and reform the whole system relating to migrant workers' livelihoods because this is a security burden on our country," Maj Gen Kongcheep told the media Wednesday at Government House.

At present, there are an estimated 2.63 million migrant workers residing nationwide.

Of the 2.63 million migrant workers, only 1.29 million of them are already legal and are successfully continuing their work in Thailand.

Of the remaining 1.34 million illegal migrant workers, 146,000 have worked in the fish processing and marine fisheries industries, while the rest work in other sectors. Most of them are working under the government's relief measure with temporary work permits.

Regarding the zoning of migrant workers' residences, Maj Gen Kongcheep said he expected the zoning in 13 provinces to be completed only by this year.

Under the Labour Ministry's draft executive decree on the management of migrant workers, employees are required to provide accommodation for migrant workers in their areas or in areas designated by provincial officials. Employers will also be required to pay levies which will be used to pay for other costs such as utilities, and medical payments for migrant workers who are not covered by health insurance or social security.

Maj Gen Kongcheep said the zoning will ensure better health conditions, support crackdowns on criminal activities, and it is also hoped that this will help lift a ban on imported products from Thailand which is believed to be involved in labour abuse and human trafficking.

The residential zoning will be carried out initially in Samut Sakhon and Rayong provinces where about 300,000 and 60,000 migrant workers live and work respectively.

In addition to residential control, the zoning plan will expand to 11 more provinces where huge numbers of more than 50,000 migrant workers are staying.

They are Pathum Thani, Chon Buri, Samut Prakan, Tak, Chiang Mai, Nakhon Pathom, Nonthaburi, Phuket, Songkhla, Rayong and Surat Thani.

Employers would be required to arrange accommodation for their migrant employees within the state-specified zones, he said.

Maj Gen Kongcheep also said that the government has issued measures for two types of illegal workers.

Fishery workers whose deportation reprieves expire on Nov 1 will need to leave the country within 15 days.

Workers in other job types who have won deportation reprieves lasting eight years will be issued smart cards at the post-arrival and reintegration centres for migrant workers in each province in March. A computer application will also be made to check information on migrant workers, Maj Gen Kongcheep said.

On Feb 23 last year, the cabinet approved measures proposed by the Labour Ministry to relax regulations on migrant workers holding a temporary work permit.

Under the cabinet resolution, migrant workers who have yet to pass the nationality verification process and hold temporary work permits, known as pink cards, would be allowed to live and work in Thailand for a maximum of two years, or no later than March 31, 2018, after their work permits expired on March 31 last year.

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