Thailand Struggles With Myanmar Migrant Entry Dilemma

By The Bangkok Post 10 November 2021

In response to a rising number of illegal migrant workers attempting to sneak into Thailand and COVID-19 clusters linked to them, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has instructed his government’s Labor Ministry to speed up efforts to resolve these issues and worker shortages.

Following the PM’s order, the ministry on Monday begun discussing proposals submitted by business operators and non-governmental organizations on labor provision, said Labor Minister Suchart Chomklin.

It was emphasized at the gathering that all parties still need to strictly follow the government’s COVID-19 control measures while at the same time refer to a guideline for managing migrant workers issued in accordance with the cabinet’s Sept. 28 resolution on managing migrant workers, said the minister.

The Interior Ministry on Friday issued a ministerial announcement allowing certain groups of migrant workers already in Thailand to register to stay on and work legally, he said.

As for a new plan to bring in more migrant workers under new memorandums of understanding with neighboring countries, the Department of Employment now plans to hold a meeting on Thursday on the matter with other state agencies, including the Foreign Affairs Ministry, the Interior Ministry, the Public Health Ministry and the Royal Thai Police, he said.

“The [Labor Ministry] has not ignored shortages of migrant workers in several businesses, and it is considering bringing in more foreign workers as allowed under the cabinet’s resolutions concerned,” he said.

As for the surge in illegal migrant workers attempting to enter Thailand for jobs, he said, the ministry is working together with the Interior Ministry and other security authorities in containing these human trafficking activities.

General Prayut was highly concerned about the problem of illegal border crossings, according to government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana.

Over the past week following the country’s reopening on Nov. 1, more than 2,800 migrant workers have been detained for illegal entry, which is an alarming number, he said.

Previously, illegal migrant workers sneaking into the country were found to have triggered a new outbreak of COVID-19 at markets in Bangkok, Samut Sakhon and most recently in Chiang Mai.

Business operators are now being encouraged to hire only migrant workers who have come to Thailand legally and been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, he said.

This story was first published in The Bangkok Post.


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