Thailand Cracks Down on Trafficking of Myanmar, Other Workers

Warrants are being sought to arrest smugglers of illegal Myanmar migrant workers and seize their assets as Thai authorities continue their crackdown on people entering the country illegally to find work following the Nov. 1 reopening.

Labor Minister Suchart Chomklin said the ministry has asked assistant national police chief Police Lieutenant General Surachet Hakparn to seek warrants for smuggling gangs, while the Anti-Money Laundering Office (Amlo) will be asked to seize their assets.

“Migrant workers should not have to wait longer than three weeks before they can enter the country legally under new memorandums of understanding,” Suchart said on Tuesday.

Imported labor based on MoUs with neighboring countries has been suspended since March of last year when COVID-19 hit the country. Businesses and industries have since faced shortages, prompting some to hire illegal migrants, Suchart said.

The Labor Ministry’s move came after Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha instructed it to speed up efforts to resolve the dilemma between worker shortages and a rising number of illegal migrants attempting to sneak into Thailand then having COVID-19 clusters linked to them.

Following the PM’s order, the ministry on Monday discussed proposals submitted by business operators and NGOs on the matter.

All parties were reminded to strictly follow the government’s COVID-19 control measures and refer to a guideline for managing migrant workers issued in accordance with the cabinet’s Sept. 28 resolution.

The Department of Employment will meet with other state agencies and the Royal Thai Police tomorrow to discuss the MoUs, he said, adding that the Labor Ministry is considering bringing in more foreign workers.

Suchart said any laborers brought in under the MoUs would need approval from the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) and final endorsement from the cabinet.

He added that the chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, the president of the Federation of Thai Industries, and business operators will also be invited to discuss the matter at tomorrow’s meeting.

“Rest assured that the problem will be fixed shortly,” Suchart said, adding the ministry decided to bring in migrant workers under the MoUs due to sufficient vaccine doses.

They will be quarantined for 14 days and will be inoculated shortly before completing their quarantine, Suchart said.

Between 50,000-80,000 migrant workers are expected to arrive under these pacts initially, he noted.

On Monday, Suchart revealed there was a surging demand for workers, with several industries such as the construction and frozen food industries in need of about 200,000 foreign laborers.

In Kanchanaburi, police and soldiers arrested 218 people who had crossed over from Myanmar illegally in Sangkhla Buri district on Tuesday, a record for the district this year.

They were seen waiting in a palm plantation by a local resident near the border in Ban Huai Kob village in tambon Nong Lu.

Most were waiting to be transported to jobs in tambon Maha Chai of Samut Sakhon province or Nakhon Pathom, Nonthaburi, Samut Prakan, Ratchaburi, Bangkok and Prachuap Khiri Khan. Some expected to work in Kanchanaburi.

Each had paid 25,000-26,000 baht (about US$760-800) to job brokers.

Source: Bangkok Post

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