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Opposition Urges Gov’t to Give Thailand Migrant Workers More Time to Register

  • Men Kimseng
  • VOA Khmer

Cambodian migrant workers get off from a Thai truck upon their arrival from Thailand at a Cambodia-Thai international border gate in Poipet, Cambodia, Tuesday, June 17, 2014.

Last month, thousands of undocumented Cambodians began returning to their home country after Thailand passed the new labor law.

Cambodia has urged undocumented migrant laborers in Thailand to register with the authorities no later than September, but a labor rights activist has said the timeframe is unrealistic.

The labor ministry has said 97 registration offices have been opened across Thailand to deal with the hundreds of thousands of Cambodians working illegally in the neighboring country.

Under new rules, fines of up to $3,000 can be levied against workers breaking the rules, while employers can face sanctions of more than $23,000 per undocumented worker. In July, thousands of undocumented Cambodians began returning to their home country after Thailand passed the new labor law.

Heng Sour, a labor spokesman, wrote on his Facebook page on July 23 that workers would be able to register at the official registration stations from August 8 to September 9.

Mu Sochua, deputy president of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, blamed corruption in Cambodia and Thailand for difficulties faced by migrant workers when attempting to register their status with the authorities.

She told the Hello VOA program lastThursday that the Cambodian and Thailand governments “should recognize their [the workers’] tremendous contribution and there must be an end to abuses.”

She added that Thailand does not meet its international commitments when it comes to migrant workers. “I am thankful that the Ministry of Labor has negotiated with Thailand ... but in the negotiations we were begging them to accept our workers,” she said. “Why don’t we say that Thailand needs workers from our country? We have to set the conditions.”

Labor rights activist Dy Thehoya said reducing paperwork costs should be a priority when seeking to improve the situation for migrant workers, whose administrative costs could sometimes run as high as $800.

“There is not clear dissemination [of information] and migrant workers do not have access to information. Secondly, there are too many of them and I wonder if the employers can meet the deadline. Personally, I don’t think there is enough time.”

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