Myanmar asks Thailand for delay of migrant labour laws

Myanmar workers return to their country from Mae Sot district in Tak on July 2, 2017. (Photo by Assawin Pinitwong)

The Myanmar Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population has asked Thailand to extend the suspension of the implementation of its new labour laws that impose harsh penalties on illegal workers, a senior ministry official said on Wednesday.

“We have planned to complete the Certificate of Identity issuing process on time. But, there are migrants who could not reach the CI camps in time, so we have asked for another extension,” said the Myanmar Times on Thursday quoted May Thu Nyo, deputy director of Migrant Worker Division of the Ministry of Labour, as saying.

The ministry has asked its Thai counterpart to give them more time to finish the issuance of IDs to those illegal migrants who registered with the Thai government.

Thailand began implementing the tough labour laws against illegal workers in June 2017, prompting an exodus of tens of thousands of illegal Myanmar workers back to the country.

But several countries requested more time for their citizens to comply with the new requirements, prompting the Thailand to suspend the implementation of the laws until Dec 31.

“We have discussed for extension of the suspension period last month with the Thai Labour Ministry and they said they will consider an extension,” May Thu Nyo said.

“Today we officially reiterated our request for extension,” she added.

There are about 700,000 foreign illegal migrants including 420,000 Myanmar citizens that have registered with the Thai government.

Officials of the Myanmar embassy and Myanmar Labour Ministry said that they have issued IDs for over 300,000 migrants. Over 100,000 Myanmar illegal migrants still need the certificates.

The illegal migrants who obtained the certificates will be issued visas, work permits, life insurance and other documents by Thailand and they will be permitted to work for their original employers and work places as legal workers after they apply for passports in their native country.

According to the records of Myanmar’s Home Affairs Ministry, over 150,000 illegal Myanmar migrants returned to Myanmar from June to November.

But up to 10,000 Myanmar migrants also went to Thailand monthly under a memorandum of understanding signed between the two governments, officials said.

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