Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Eleven Media: Myanmar workers in Thailand earning under minimum wage

Eleven Media reports:
Many Myanmar migrants working in Thailand are earning less than the minimum wage of BHT 300 a day (US$ 10), according to the Education and Development Foundation. "Thai government set the minimum wage at BHT 300 a day, but many Myanmar workers are getting paid below that level. Some are even ill-treated by the managers and employers," said Htoo Chit, advisor to The Education and Development Foundation. There are still hundreds of thousands of undocumented Myanmar workers in Thailand. Most of them work on rubber plantations and fishery businesses in Thailand, and they are the ones who suffer most from low wages. "I worked in Thailand for five years. I had never earned BHT 300 a day until I returned here last month. I worked on a fishing boat. I don’t have any plan to go there again," said Hla Oo, a Myanmar national from Taninthayi Region who once worked in Thailand. The neighbouring countries are seeking solutions on the issue of undocumented migrant workers in Thailand. Many were issued temporary passports last year. Some Myanmar workers who legally came in Thailand through overseas job agencies are also exposed to unfair treatment and exploitation, Htoo Chit added. "We heard some Myanmar workers who are legally working in Thailand are not paid the minimum wages. I think the workers should make sure what the salary is before they go and work in Thailand. Maybe some expenses for the workers are cut from their salaries. To sort out such problems, the two governments should cooperate,” said Ohnmar Eichaw from the United Nations Inter-Agency Project.

The Irrawaddy: Burmese Embassy Raises Migrant Worker Issues With Thailand

The Irrawaddy reports:
The Burmese ambassador to Thailand on Wednesday spoke up for migrant workers in a meeting with a senior Thai Ministry of Interior official, according to an embassy official. Labor rights activists have for a long time alleged widespread labor exploitation, extortion by Thai police and human trafficking of migrant workers, hundreds of thousands of whom cross the border from Burma in search of higher wages... The ambassador also talked about the issue of Thai police arbitrarily arresting or asking for money from documented Burmese migrants in some places of Thailand, he said.The Burmese Embassy in Bangkok has attempted to intervene on labor rights violations since the President Thein Sein took office in 2011, the attaché said... But migrant workers are reportedly still been preyed upon by unscrupulous agents or middlemen, as well as the Thai police, despite having legal documents, obtained under a 2009 scheme named the National Verification Process and Issuance of Temporary Passport... Ma Khine, a migrant worker who recently traveled from Bangkok back to Burma last month, told The Irrawaddy that even though she has all the necessary documents—a temporary passport and valid work permit—she still had problems traveling. She said Thai police at a checkpoint between Bangkok and the Mae Sot border crossing asked her to pay 100 baht (US$3.20) as “tea money”—a term understood to mean a bribe. “I did not want any trouble, so I paid when I was stopped at two out of five checkpoints along the Bangkok-Mae Sot road,” Mai Kine said.