Govt weighs migrant entry dilemma

Govt weighs migrant entry dilemma

Contagion fear amid labour shortages

Soldiers round up about 100 illegal Myanmar migrants in Sai Yok district of Kanchanaburi on Sunday. (Photo: Piyachat Chongcharoen)
Soldiers round up about 100 illegal Myanmar migrants in Sai Yok district of Kanchanaburi on Sunday. (Photo: Piyachat Chongcharoen)

In response to a rising number of illegal migrant workers attempting to sneak into Thailand and Covid-19 clusters linked to them, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has instructed the Labour Ministry to speed up efforts to resolve these issues and worker shortages.

Following the PM's order, the ministry on Monday begun discussing proposals submitted by business operators and non-governmental organisations on labour provision, said Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin.

It was emphasised at the gathering that all parties still need to strictly follow the government's Covid-19 control measures while at the same time refer to a guideline for managing migrant workers issued in accordance with the cabinet's Sept 28 resolution on managing migrant workers, said the minister.

The Interior Ministry had on Friday issued a ministerial announcement allowing certain groups of migrant workers already in Thailand to register to stay on and work legally, he said.

As for a new plan to bring in more migrant workers under new memorandums of understanding with neighbouring countries, the Department of Employment now plans to hold a meeting on Thursday on the matter with other state agencies, including the Foreign Affairs Ministry, the Interior Ministry, the Public Health Ministry and the Royal Thai Police, he said.

"The [labour] ministry had not ignored shortages of migrant workers in several businesses, and it is considering bringing in more foreign workers as allowed under the cabinet's resolutions concerned," he said.

As for the surge in illegal migrant workers attempting to enter Thailand for jobs, he said, the ministry is working together with the Interior Ministry and other security authorities in containing these human trafficking activities.

Gen Prayut was highly concerned about the problem of illegal border crossings, according to government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana.

Over the past week following the country's reopening on Nov 1, more than 2,800 migrant workers have been detained for illegal entry, which is an alarming number, he said.

Previously, illegal migrant workers sneaking into the country were found to have triggered a new outbreak of Covid-19 at markets in Bangkok, Samut Sakhon and most recently in Chiang Mai.

Business operators are now being encouraged to hire only migrant workers who have come to Thailand legally and been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, he said.

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