Thailand: Employers inflate registration cost for migrant workers making them vulnerable to exploitation & modern slavery

Author: Thomson Reuters Foundation, Bangkok Post, Published on: 1 September 2019

"Slavery fears rise for migrant workers", 30 August 2019

...Millions of migrant workers from Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos toil in the low-skilled sectors, where limited state oversight and unscrupulous employment practices leave many vulnerable to exploitation and modern slavery, activists say.

...[T]he government aims to ensure 2 million legitimate migrant workers are registered afresh — a process that must be carried out by employers but paid for by workers earning as little as 10,000 baht a month.

However, migrants and labour activists said that employers, middlemen and brokers are inflating the cost and saddling workers with fresh debts — trapping many in exploitative workplaces as they struggle to pay off what they owe.

Debt bondage is one of the world's most prevalent forms of modern slavery, which affects 610,000 people in Thailand....

...The Labour Ministry is telling migrant workers the real costs of registration with the new system and encouraging them to report employers who charge higher fees, said Suwan Duangta, inspector-general at the ministry's department of employment.

...But the overhaul is unlikely to encourage undocumented workers or new arrivals seeking work to become registered....

Informal fees, time-consuming visits to government agencies, and confusion over legal processes have long dissuaded migrants from obtaining legitimate jobs, both activists and workers said.

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