Migrant workers flock to register as deadline nears

Although there are still five days left for migrant workers to register before the deadline ends on March 31, hundreds of thousands of workers, mostly Myanmar who have been temporarily allowed to work in the country, are at risk of becoming illegal as the registration process still going slowly.

According to the cabinet resolution on Jan 16, about 2 million migrant workers from Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia were temporarily allowed to work in the Kingdom until March 31 this year.

All were required to register by March 31, or else they will lose their jobs and sent back to their home countries while the Thai employers face legal punishment.

The delay in the registration was blamed on the nationality verification, particularly migrant workers in the fishing industry.

The deadline for compiling information required for the registration was March 31 and that the nationality verification process for all migrant workers will be completed by June 30.

As labour authorities struggled to meet the deadline to register more than 1.6 million workers, the critical situation has forced Labour Minister Adul Sangsingkeo to order authorities to shorten the migrant worker registration process at its one-stop service (OSS) centres since Feb 5.

But although the OSS centres are in place, migrant workers are still seen waiting in long queue, some have been waiting for five straight days for their turns with patience.

For example, at the Chiang Mai OSS centre, migrant workers, most of them are Myanmar, queued up at the centre for almost five days and were still waiting with hope that they could be registered in time.

They stayed overnight on streets near the OSS centre amid extremely hot weather during the day and some rainfalls.

One female Myanmar worker in a farming sector in Fang district of Chiang Mai said she arrived and waited for her turn for three days and nights at the centre amid heat in the day and rains at night.

Meanwhile, Thai employers also asked the government to open more centres and extend the deadline as not only they would suffer but also workers who have to flock to register.

Although the OSS centre in Chiang Mai will allow online registration, the problem remained unsolved as the fill-in forms are in Thai language, and workers still could not access to the Internet.

The Chiang Mai OSS center open 24 hours but could register only 2,100-22,00 workers a day, according to an authority at the centre.

Workers who fail to register by the deadline will be arrested for working without permits .They will face a fine of 5,000-50,000 baht and sent back homes.

For Thai employers who employ migrant worker who have no work permits, they will face 10,000-100,000 baht for an illegal worker employed. For repeated offence, employee could face one year imprisonment, and ban from employing foreign workers for three years.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (ThaiPBS)