The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) is setting up one-stop service centres to register migrant workers under its urgent measures to combat long-running transnational labour problems.
The centres will speed up the documentation procedures for workers, mainly from neighbouring countries, as part of security measures to ensure their access to labour rights benefits, according to a meeting of the junta yesterday chaired by deputy army chief Gen Udomdet Sitabutr.
Four border checkpoints, which many workers pass through, have been chosen as the locations for the first centres.
These checkpoints, near the Thai-Cambodian border, are Chong Chom in Surin province, Khlong Luek in Sa Kaeo, Phak Kat in Chanthaburi province and Laem Ngop in Trat.
Authorities from the Immigration Bureau, Interior, Labour and Public Health ministries are stationed at each centre to oversee procedures regarding workers’ entry to Thailand, classification of their work and working licences and to conduct health checks to screen out workers with certain diseases.
These are urgent services for both employers and workers, who are required to come into line with the NCPO’s labour policy, NCPO spokesman Yongyuth Maiyalap said after the meeting.
“Employers are also allowed to handle documents for their workers,” said Capt Yongyuth, encouraging those who are hiring illegal labourers to contact the centres.
Their workers will be called to report to authorities, he said.
Currently there are about 2.2 million legal foreign workers, mostly Myanmar nationals, in Thailand, but many other workers have not been documented, prompting past governments to order them to report to authorities through a registration process called nationality verification.
The Labour Ministry has extended the period of the nationality verification for another year to help both employers and workers deal with any hindrances they are facing.
Authorities are also easing legal restrictions to allow workers who overstayed their visas to continue working.
However, all of them need to be registered so the state can better regulate them and, for their own sake, they can enjoy work benefits such as health care, Capt Yongyuth said.
The registration of migrant workers is among the military council’s efforts to solve problems concerning migrant labourers.
These problems include the abuse of child labour, human trafficking and the misconduct of some state officials and labour brokers who make money from illegal businesses associated with migrant workers.
Thailand still lacks effective solutions to these problems while unity among state agencies dealing with labour issues needs improvement, Gen Sirichai Disthakul, chairman of NCPO sub-panel on transnational labour, said.
Gen Sirichai was speaking after paying a visit last week to Samut Sakhon, home to many workers from Myanmar.
He made the visit following the exodus of more than a hundred thousand Cambodian labourers back to their home country amid widely spread rumours that the military had attacked foreign labourers or planned to use violence to drive them out.
The NCPO has since clarified its labour policy to say no crackdown is underway, and workers have begun to travel back to Thailand, Capt Yongyuth said, citing reports from Northeastern military units.