Thailand Re-opens Migrant Worker Registration Program

Irrawaddy news, 3rd June 2009

The Thai government has agreed to offer a new round of registration for work permits for non-citizens illegally working in Thailand, according to Thai non-government organizations.

Jackie Pollock, a founding member of the Thailand-based Migrant Assistance Programme (MAP), said the new registration process requires a recommendation from an employer. The registration process started on Monday.

Myo Thaw, a member of the Labor Rights Promotion Network (LPN), which is based in Mahachai in Samut Sakhon Province said that the new migrant work permits will have different colors to show the category of work.

A worker will have the right to change jobs, but it must be in the same field of work.

According to the LPN, there are 76,000 Burmese workers who have legal work permits and more than 224,000 workers awaiting a new registration cycle in Mahachai.
Meanwhile, the Thai government also has agreed to allow Burmese workers who now hold work permits to apply for work passports from Burma. About 500,000 people are legally registered to work with the Thai ministry of labor.

However, observers said many Burmese are hesitant to apply to the Burmese government for fear of being sent back to Burma.

MAP estimates that there are currently up to five million Burmese migrants living and working in Thailand.

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