Labour minister denies links to people smugglers
Opposition parties yesterday accused Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin of negligence in his handling of the illegal smuggling of migrant workers.
On the fourth day of the no-confidence debate, Pheu Thai Party MP for Ubon Ratchathani Somkid Chueakong told parliament that someone had accused the labour minister of being acquainted with a migrant labour trafficker based in Tak's Mae Sot district, with some police officers also allegedly involved in the gang.
Mr Somkid said the trafficker, known as Je Or, had smuggled migrants into the country and sent them to employers who needed them without being kept in check by authorities, and this was partly to blame for the current domestic Covid-19 outbreak.
"Tea money worth 250 million baht a year has been paid [to authorities to facilitate the smuggling]," Mr Somkid claimed.
In response, Mr Suchart denied any links with the gang, and insisted that the Labour Ministry's duty involves making sure business operators have licences to employ migrant workers and the workers themselves have legal work permits.
Last year, labour inspectors examined more than 100,000 migrant workers and took legal action against 1,300 believed to have broken the rules, the minister said.
He added that more than 500,000 migrant workers have been registered during the past seven years.
As for the current unemployment situation, some 640,000 people have now returned to work, even though the number of laid-off workers still exceeds those who are re-employed, Mr Suchart said.
Mr Suchart said he had also asked lawmakers to vote in support of a bill that would help to protect about 20 million informal workers.