Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Mizzima: Suu Kyi says government plans to take care of Myanmar migrant workers in Thailand

On the Myanmar government's involvement with migrant nationals in Thailand:
Myanmar Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi said the Government has plans to take care of Myanmar migrant workers in Thailand... Although she did not reveal details of the plan, she said the Myanmar government had plans to take care of Myanmar migrant workers in Thailand. The Thai Foreign Minister Pramudwinai said, “Children of Myanmar migrant workers in Thailand get schooling in Thailand. And Myanmar workers can enjoy the right to receive medical treatment like Thai workers. We will work in order that Myanmar workers have equal rights. Myanmar also has a duty to address some matters related to Myanmar workers in Thailand.” ... the Thai Foreign Minister said 1.59 million Myanmar migrant workers have been registered legally in Thailand. Thailand’s Bangkok Post reported that according to Thanit Sorat, founder and former secretary-general of the Thai Myanmar Business Forum, about 1.6 million documented Myanmar migrants now work in Thailand, while a further 1.6 million are unregistered.
"Suu Kyi says government plans to take care of Myanmar migrant workers in Thailand," Mizzima, 10 May 2016

Thursday, 5 May 2016

On the much-drawn-out negotiations of migrant registration in Thailand

Are they really still negotiating over regularising migration to Thailand? This sounds like the MoU system that pre-dates the coup by at least 5 years.
Thai and Myanmar labour ministers have agreed to proceed with a labour cooperation plan to import migrant workers through a government-to-government agreement, says a senior ministry official.
"Minister settles worker import plan with Myanmar," Bangkok Post, 5 May 2016

Comparing Myanmar wages internationallly

International companies are pouring into [Myanmar], eager to take advantage of the extraordinarily cheap labour costs (only Djibouti and Bangladesh offer lower labour costs than the 3,600 kyat [Dh11.39] daily minimum wage introduced last year). 
"Myanmar’s Catch 22: why Aung San Suu Kyi faces the task of a lifetime," The Nation, 4 May 2016

The reality of migrant wages in Mae Sot

According to Win Zaw Oo, a Mae Sot-based migrant: "Even though the Thai government has officially set the minimum wage in Tak province area at 300 baht [a day], not more than 10% of migrant workers get that amount."

And according to U Moe Kyo, director of JACBA: "Even though [Thai] government has considered increasing the minimum wage to 300 baht all over Thailand, Mae Sot and some other districts still pay a minimum wage under 200 baht."
"International Workers Day Raises Concerns about Equality, Rights and Pay For Burmese Workers," Karen News, 3 May 2016

Contesting Myanmar's minimum wage

The current minimum wage in Myanmar is 3,600 kyat/day.  The MWUN calls for an increase to 5,600 kyat/day.
The Myanmar Workers Union Network yesterday called on the new government to enact a minimum wage of Ks 5,600 at a ceremony marking International Workers’ Day in Hlaingthaya Township, Yangon. The ceremony was attended by MPs from the National League for Democracy, members of labour unions and farmers unions, officials from political organisations and around 500 workers.
"Workers Union Network calls for daily minimum wage of Ks 5,600," Eleven Media, May 2016

Updated stats on workers unions, federations and confederations in Myanmar

Myanmar saw 1,917 labour organisations at basic level, 105 at township level and 14 at region or state level, seven labour federations and one labour confederation.
"Myanmar to promote, protect labour rights," Business Standard, 2 May 2016

The challenge of debt bondage in Thailand

Migrant workers who fall prey to human traffickers often avoid reporting their cases to Thai authorities for fear of being incarcerated, leaving them unable to earn money to send home or pay back debts to brokers... Migrant workers from Myanmar and also Cambodia commonly borrow money to pay recruitment fees to illegal brokers to be smuggled into Thailand or to registered brokers for the paperwork to go legally... Once they start their jobs, they are often not paid for several months as their salaries are used to pay those debts, leaving them vulnerable to trafficking and broker exploitation... agency, recruitment and corruption costs, can cause migrants to rack up debts from $400 up to $1,200 just to get started working in Thailand...
"Fear of incarceration hamper Thai fight against human trafficking: activist," Reuters, 28 April 2016

Will child labour increase in Myanmar?

VOA on a potential increase in child labour:
After 50 years of economic isolation, observers fear that Myanmar children might be forced to work before they can complete schooling in a booming economy... Experts say about twenty percent of children in Myanmar between the ages of 10 and 17 work instead of going to school. They work in factories, tourism and many other businesses. They work in cities and in rural areas... Children younger than age 13 are not permitted to work in shops or factories in Myanmar. If they do work, they may only do so for up to four hours a day. But experts say businesses do not obey the law, and the government does not punish them for ignoring it.

"Economic Growth Could Increase Child Labor in Myanmar," VOA, 5 May 2016