Trafficked illegals in crosshairs
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Trafficked illegals in crosshairs

Smugglers targeted, MoUs rekindled

Officials arrest 218 illegal Myanmar migrants in a plantation in Sangkhla Buri district, Kanchanaburi, on Tuesday morning. (Photo: Piyarat Chongcharoen)
Officials arrest 218 illegal Myanmar migrants in a plantation in Sangkhla Buri district, Kanchanaburi, on Tuesday morning. (Photo: Piyarat Chongcharoen)

Arrest warrants are being sought for smugglers of illegal migrant workers and their assets will be seized as the crackdown continues on people entering the country illegally to find work following the Nov 1 reopening.

Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin said the ministry has asked assistant national police chief Pol Lt Gen Surachet Hakparn to seek warrants for smuggling gangs while the Anti-Money Laundering Office (Amlo) will be asked to seize their assets.

"Migrant workers should not have to wait longer than three weeks before they can enter the country legally under new memorandums of understanding," Mr Suchart said on Tuesday.

Imported labour based on MoUs with neighbouring countries has been suspended since March of last year when Covid-19 hit the country. Businesses and industries have since faced shortages, prompting some to hire illegal migrants, Mr Suchart said.

The Labour Ministry's move came after Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha previously instructed it to speed up efforts to resolve the dilemma between worker shortages and a rising number of illegal migrants attempting to sneak into Thailand then having Covid-19 clusters linked to them.

Following the PM's order, the ministry on Monday discussed proposals submitted by business operators and NGOs on the matter.

All parties were reminded to strictly follow the government's Covid-19 control measures and refer to a guideline for managing migrant workers issued in accordance with the cabinet's Sept 28 resolution.

The Department of Employment will meet with other state agencies and the Royal Thai Police tomorrow to discuss the MoUs, he said, adding the Labour Ministry is considering bringing in more foreign workers.

Mr Suchart said any labourers brought in under the MoUs would need approval from the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) and final endorsement from the cabinet.

He added that the chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, the president of the Federation of Thai Industries, and business operators will also be invited to discuss the matter at tomorrow's meeting.

"Rest assured that the problem will be fixed shortly," Mr Suchart said, adding the ministry decided to bring in migrant workers under the MoUs due to sufficient vaccine doses.

They will be quarantined for 14 days and will be inoculated shortly before completing their quarantine, Mr Suchart said.

Between 50,000-80,000 migrant workers are expected to arrive under these pacts initially, he noted.

On Monday, Mr Suchart revealed there was a surging demand for workers, with several industries such as the construction and frozen food industries in need of about 200,000 foreign labourers.

In Kanchanaburi, police and soldiers arrested 218 people who had crossed over from Myanmar illegally in Sangkhla Buri district on Tuesday, a record for the district this year.

They were seen waiting in a palm plantation by a local resident near the border in Ban Huai Kob village in tambon Nong Lu.

Most were waiting to be transported to jobs in tambon Maha Chai of Samut Sakhon province or Nakhon Pathom, Nonthaburi, Samut Prakan, Ratchaburi, Bangkok and Prachuap Khiri Khan. Some expected to work in Kanchanaburi.

Each had paid 25,000-26,000 baht to job brokers.

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