Sunday, 30 December 2012

The Nation: Thais jailed over migrant deaths in 2008

The Nation reports:
A court in Ranong province has sentenced four Thais to up to 10 years in prison for their involvement in the deaths of 54 illegal workers from Myanmar who suffocated to death inside a seafood container in 2008. Myanmarese workers have long been required by the Thai labour market, particularly in the fishery and construction sectors, while Myanmar people want to land jobs in Thailand due to the higher income.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

MAP report: Regular Rights

The MAP Foundation has released a new report titled "Regular Rights: Do Documents Improve Migrants Lives?", which details the situation of migrants in Thailand.  The report can be downloaded here.

From the intro:
Regular Rights is a project set up by MAP Foundation in January 2012 to support migrant workers from Burma to compare and analyse the benefits and drawbacks of three different migration statuses, namely being undocumented, being registered with a migrant workers card and holding a Temporary Passport through the Nationality verification process. 195 undocumented workers, 137 migrant workers holding migrant workers cards and 161 migrants holding Nationality verification temporary passports completed questionnaires about their living and working conditions in Chiang Mai, Mae Sot and Mahachai. In addition, migrants in Chiang Mai, Mae Sot, Mahachai and Phang Nga participated in 12 workshops on nationality verification, social security and the MOU process to learn more about these processes and share their own experiences. This paper summarises the views and experiences of the migrants who participated in the activities and is the first of a series of proposed papers.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Democratic Voice of Burma: Academics say anti-union campaign continues

DVB provides an update of the transfer of academics involved in union organising.
Pro-union lecturers at Rangoon University are being transferred to different institutions across Burma in what the professors say is a deliberate move to undercut unions.

Confusion over registration extension

According to The Nation, the Thai Ministry of Labour has stated that there is no plan to provide a 3-month extension for migrant worker registration in Thailand, as had been previously reported.
The fate of Myanmar migrant workers in Thailand is hanging in the balance as labour ministers of the two countries fail to reach common ground over the extension of nationality verification.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

The migrant registration deadline (and its extension)

There have been a bunch of articles recently regarding the 14 December 2012 deadline for registration of migrants in Thailand.
  • An excellent Mizzima interview (14 December) with Jackie Pollack of the MAP foundation about the implications of the registration deadline.
  •  A VOA article (14 December)about the ILO urging the Thai government to extend the deadline.
  • A report in the Phuket News (15 December) stating that unregistered migrants will be deported starting 14 December.
  • An article in the Myanmar Times about Myanmar president U Thein Sein urging Thai PM Yingluk Shinawatra to extend the registration deadline.
  • A brief notice by The Irrawaddy (17 December) that the registration deadline has been extended for three months.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Workers struggles in Myanmar (November 2012)

Sparticus' list of links to articles on labour struggles in Myanmar (via

Raids, arrests and deportations of migrants in Thailand

Factory raids and mass arrests of undocumented workers in Thailand began yesterday as Thai authorities had said in advance.

On 13 December, VOA reported that
Thailand is threatening to deport more than a million migrant workers, most of them from Burma, if they do not complete required documentation by a December 14 deadline. Rights groups say the nationality verification process, while aimed at providing legal protection, is being exploited by corrupt officials, brokers and employers to further abuse vulnerable migrants.Thai authorities in charge of regulating migrant labor had pushed back previous deadlines for foreign workers to become documented.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Response to FTUB organised meeting in Yangon

Phophtaw News Agency reports that the Myanmar Industrial Trade Union (MITU) rejected an invitation from the Federation of Trade Unions of Burma (FTUB) to attend a meeting in Yangon this December with the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), which is visiting with the plan to set up an office in Myanmar. MITU chairperson U Ye Kyaw Thu stated that the reason for rejecting FTUB's invitation is that FTUB "has no position in Myanmar".  This follows an 8 October statement by the Agricultural and Farmers Federation of Myanmar (AFFM) in which the association said that it "will not become a member of FTUB because they [AFFM member organisations] don’t want to be under their control."  Furthermore, AFFM chairperson Daw Than Than Htay stated that the FTUB's statement that the AFFM was under FTUB was not true.
အျပည္ျပည္ ဆိုင္ရာ အလုပ္သမား သမဂၢမ်ား အဖဲြ႕ခ်ဳပ္ (ITUC) အစည္းအေ၀း အတြက္ ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံ အလုပ္ သမား သမဂၢမ်ား အဖြဲ႔ခ်ဳပ္ (FTUB) အဖြဲ႔၏ ဖိတ္ၾကားခ်က္ကို ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံ စက္မႈဇုန္ အလုပ္သမားမ်ား သမဂ(MITU) မွ ပယ္ ခ်ခဲ့သည္ဟု ဥကၠ႒ ဦးရဲေက်ာ္သူက ဆိုပါသည္။

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Persecution of union members in Mandalay

DVB reports:
Leading members of the University Lecturers’ Union in Mandalay have been transferred to several institutions across Burma in what they claim is a deliberate move by education officials who dislike unions. Among those being transferred are professors from Mandalay University, University of Distance Education and Foreign Languages University in Mandalay who are members of the University Lecturers Union that was officially registered and recognised by the Labour Department in June.

Myanmar migrants will definitely receive the minimum wage?

The Pattaya Mail reports:
Myanmar migrant workers who have already passed the nationality verification process are entitled to receive Thailand’s Bt300 minimum wage, the same rate as Thai workers under Thai law, according to Vice Minister of Labour and Social Welfare Anusorn Kraiwatnussorn. Mr Anusorn said after meeting with visiting Myanmar Deputy Minister for Labour Myint Thein that he told Myint Thein to inform the Myanmar workers who wanted to work legally in Thailand that they would definitely receive Bt300 minimum wage, the same rate as Thai workers.

Impending deportation of undocumented migrants

The Thai government is scheduled to deport undocumented Myanmar workers en masse when the 14 December 2012 deadline for registration arrives:

Bangkok Post reports:
An estimated 1 million legal and illegal migrant workers from Myanmar who have yet to apply for nationality verification ahead of the Dec 14 deadline could face deportation. Despite the large numbers, the Employment Department will close all national verification centres and deport migrant workers who fail to undergo the verification process by Dec 14.
See also an article from The Irrawaddy.

Myanmar migrants in Malaysia

Khabar Southeast Asia reports on Myanmar migrant workers in Malaysia:
Foreign workers are a boon to the service industry due to a lack of local manpower, says Endrew Wong, 41, the co-owner of Chi Hao Dian. Yet Malaysia's large foreign workforce is a relatively new phenomenon.
Back in 1991, migrant workers were unheard of, save for those in higher management, Wong said. But now five-star hotels almost exclusively employ non-Malaysians for stewarding and housekeeping jobs.

Pay discrepency between local and foreign workers in Myanmar

The Myanmar Times reports on pay discrepancies between Myanmar and Chinese nationals working on the Rakhine State gas pipeline:
Myanmar engineers taking part in training in China before working on a pipeline project have expressed frustration over what they say are unfair differences in pay between Myanmar and Chinese workers.... The Myanmar workers say the Chinese trainees are receiving wages almost three times higher during the training period and five times higher after they start work.