Friday, 13 December 2019

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Political turmoil halts nationality verification in Thailand

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The beginnings of political turmoil in Thailand has brought a halt to the process of nationality verification for migrant workers from neighbouring countries.

Thai labour authorities have told officials across the country to stop the nationality verification process for migrant workers to prevent confusion in the present situation. 

Thanit Numnoi, Director of the  Office Of Foreign Workers Administration, Thailand’s Ministry of Labour, in a ‘most urgent’ letter on 12 March, ordered  all provincial employment officers to halt the nationality verification process for migrant workers Burma from yesterday until further notice because of the political situation.

“There is concern that migrants travelling to border provinces for nationality verification could be adversely affected by the political situation and strengthen authority control/inspection of groups travelling to the protests,” noted the letter.

The Thai government has stepped up restrictions on the movement of migrant workers from neighbouring countries, like Lao, Burma and Cambodia apprehending they may join the ensuing major political demonstration in the country by the Red Shirts.

On Tuesday, Phaitoon Kaewthong, the Thai Labour Minister said that the Department of Employment had already issued a letter to all employers who hire migrant workers that it is prohibiting  movement of migrant workers. If there is movement of migrants they shall be considered “illegal” as they have to request for permission to travel outside their registered provinces, according to a report by Thailand’s Public Relations Department.

If migrant workers join the rallies, employers must take responsibility. Besides, migrant workers will automatically lose their right to stay in Thailand.

However, the Minister has not yet received any reports from provincial authorities that migrant workers will join the rally.

“The penalty for bringing migrant workers is if that there is any movement of migrant workers that is not notified beforehand, there is a penalty both for employers and workers. Workers will cease to be employees and in addition will be subjected to fines of 20,000 [606 USD] to 100,000 baht [3,030 USD] and imprisonment of five years. As for employers, if their workers lose their right to work and continue working, they shall be subject to fines of 10,000 [303 USD] to 100,000 baht [3,030 USD] per employee they hire,” he said.

Members of the Democratic Alliance against Dictatorship (DAAD), or the Red-Shirts, who support former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, plan to assemble at several locations around Bangkok from March 12 to 14 to protest against the government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.  So as to assemble a million people to take part in the anti-government rally later this month, the Red Shirts are trying to mobilize people across the country.

On Friday thousands of Red Shirts from the North and the Northeast have started their march, expecting to reach Bangkok by Sunday, amidst tight security.

Labour Ministry statistics reveal that there are about 500,000 workers, who have not registered with the Thai authorities this year of a total 1.3 million last year.


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