Burmese Woman Among 10 Construction Workers Killed in Bangkok

By Nyein Nyein 27 February 2014

A female Burmese migrant worker was among the 10 victims lethally injured on Tuesday by a collapse at a construction site in Bangkok that is operated by Italian-Thai Development (ITD) Public Company Ltd, a Burma Embassy official said.

A Burmese woman named Kay Khaing, 29, was amongst 10 victims, four of who were Thai and five Cambodian, labor attaché Kyaw Kyaw Lwin said, adding that most of the 16 other workers who were injured were Cambodian.

The accident occurred in Bangkok’s Samut Prakan’s Bang Phli district on Tuesday afternoon at the site of construction of part of the Faculty of Medicine Ramathibodi Hospital, the Bangkok Post reported. Some 30 workers were having lunch under a concrete corridor linking two buildings when it collapsed, burying the workers.

Kyaw Kyaw Lwin said the Burmese husband of the victim, Thet Maung Maung, also worked at the construction site and will receive about US$ 3,000 in compensation from ITD, Thailand’s biggest construction company.

“The Italian-Thai company will pay the compensation,” said Kyaw Kyaw Lwin. “I already told them to take care of the cremation of her body too in accordance with her husband’s desire.”

However, Thet Maung Maung said he has not heard anything about the compensation offer or coverage of the cost of the cremation. “I don’t know anything yet. My wife body is still at the police station,” he said, adding that he has received some help from the Burma Embassy.

“The police thought she has no document,” he said. “They will only return her body to me when I show them these documents.”
Thet Maung Maung said he asked the Thai police station to let him cremate his wife’s body, although he lacks enough money to pay for it. “I asked the company to advance my salary in order to cover the cost of her cremation cost. But they don’t do it, so I think they will do it [the cremation] and give me her ashes.”

He said his wife Kay Khaing had worked in the construction site for about four months. She was a resident from Pegu division and followed her husband, who had moved to Thailand about a year ago, to begin work with ITD. “We work under the same construction company but we were at the different worksites,” said Thet Maung Maung.

There are some 600 Burmese workers working in the construction of new medical center in Bangkok, he added.

More than 2 million Burmese migrants are believed to be working in Thailand in order to escape years of repression and poverty in their home country. They perform low-paid, manual labor jobs at construction sites, restaurants and factories.

Many cross the border into Thailand illegally and lack official Burmese identity papers, Thai working visas and other legal documentation. As a result, many work as unregistered laborers, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation by employers and authorities.

Despite numerous campaigns by migrant rights groups, there has been little improvement in the migrants’ situation in the past decade.