Thailand: Thailand takes legal steps to retain vital labourers from neighboring countries

Author: Yukako Ono, Nikkei Asian Review, Published on: 18 February 2019

"Migrant workers in Thailand live harsh, but improving, reality", 17 February 2019

The clusters of yellow shipping containers sitting on a bleak parcel of land on the dusty outskirts of Bangkok are a symbol of Thailand's growing dependence on migrant workers.

Children play among the containers, shouting in Cambodian and Thai. The makeshift village in the city's Bangphlat district is home to around 700 migrant workers from Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. In the evening, trucks bring sweaty workers, men and women, back from their jobs on construction sites…

One 24-year-old Cambodian, Noi Yingmeemaoi, appeared to be happy to be working in Thailand. Cradling her 18-month-old son, Arthit, she said, "I can earn higher wages in Thailand, and I enjoy the convenience of living near a large city."…

The growing competition for labor has spurred Thailand to take steps to retain foreign workers …, the government has enacted a series of laws to accept immigrants and crack down on human trafficking and forced labor.

The move was aimed mainly at defusing international criticism about rampant human rights violations in the country's lightly regulated labor market. But it was also designed to improve migrants' working conditions to ensure that they stay in the country.

The new legislation requires employers to take steps to provide legal status to migrants working without a visa or proper identification.

Noi Yingmeemaoi is a beneficiary of the new rules. "I no longer have to worry about being detained and deported," she said.

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