Torntanat (Jump) Cheng November 25, 2010 TSEA. P.3 Migrant Workers of Thailand "While the situation may be getting bad here in Thailand, the situation is worsein Burma"(Deng) In 1948, after the end of World War II, the British colony left the country ofBurma, thus returning Burma its independence. The Burmese came upon thedecision of having their military govern the country. Due to this, the poor in Burmanow live harsh lives, while the rich live in paradise. The poor of Burma are forced towork for public projects that the government has set. Depending on their status,some receive salaries while others are treated as slaves, working for nothing. Thismakes the Burmese people believe that Thailand is a better place than Burma.Thailand is a place with higher job opportunities and a place where they can makemoney to support their family. The Thai community has “hundreds of thousands ofBurmese migrant workers [that] are employed in various sectors of Thai industry,including fisheries, manufacturing, domestic and construction work, hotels andrestaurants, and agriculture. As Thailand has become more prosperous, fewer Thaipeople are willing to work in jobs which are commonly known as dirty, dangerous,and demeaning” (Thailand). This is what opens up opportunities for Burmesemigrant workers to find jobs, which is one of the main reasons why the Burmesepeople migrate to Thailand. Burmese migrant workers make up approximately 80%of migrant workers in Thailand, these workers choose to do job’s the Thai’s don’twant and they are people who help the economy of Thailand. Even though life inThailand may open up opportunities for jobs and better working conditions thatcannot be found in Burma, Burmese migrant workers working in Thailand faceabusive treatment. The Thai government needs to put more effort into protectingtheir rights.Thai government needs to put more effort to protect their rights. In Thailand, the government and organizations that support the BurmeseMigrant Workers are making an effort to change in order to bring equality to the
people living in Thailand. There has been complaints about the inequality of thetreatment of the Burmese people, which has been consulted within the Thaigovernment. The Thai government is setting out labor standards in order to preventthe inequality there is in the society. This is done by granting working permits in anofficial ceremony marking the start of a fresh campaign to stop illegal immigrantsfrom entering Thailand. (Dennis). In March 1992 the Thai cabinet passed the first ofa successive number of resolutions, which have allowed migrants to pay fees andapply for work. The permit allows them to work legally in Thailand. When the workpermit is in the possession of migrant workers, they are protected under the 1997Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand and covered by most of the provisions inthe Labor Protection Act of 1998 (Pi Chai). The United Nations Declaration onHuman Rights bans arbitrary arrest and discrimination before the law. It also makeshaving a clean and adequate standard of living a basic Human Right. By doing this,the government is reducing the risk of abusive treatment of Burmese migrantworkers. The work permit also gives migrants access to the 30-baht health scheme,where each visit to a doctor costs only 30 baht plus the cost of medicine (Dennis).Another act of support done by the Thai government is allowing children to go topublic schools in different provinces. The Thai government promotes education formigrant children in Thailand, because they believe that by providing education andincreasing their knowledge we can strengthen self-reliance among migrantcommunities and help lessen poverty (BMWEC). By getting working permits,migrant workers are able to access many benefits in Thai society which haveenhanced their lives. However, the government has still failed to protect the rightsof the Burmese migrant workers. Even with the work permits, the Burmese migrant workers are not givenenough support from the government to help improve their lives. The workingpermits are supposed to protect the Burmese migrant workers from arbitrary arrestand discrimination but reports have come in that the Burmese peoples rights arenot being protected. There are a few flaws in the working permit. The two mainflaws are that in order to get a working permit, you need “to pay a fee of 3000 baht,”which not many can afford (Thailand). If the migrant workers do not have working
permits, they are working as illegal immigrants, and this may lead to arbitraryarrest or even deportation, but in some cases the migrant workers go through abuseand harassment within the work place (Dennis). Also, not having a working permitmay restrict the Burmese migrants from working due to some work places, whichdo not allow illegal immigrants to work. Without jobs, the Burmese migrant workersare unable to work and if they don’t work they don’t have the money for workingpermits. Due to these reasons, the working permits that the government has to offerare far too complicated. Even though the Burmese migrant workers are allowedaccess to the 30 baht health scheme, there have been complaints that the medicalcare they are receiving from the hospitals is of low quality. Some of these workersfeel that “[they] are being terribly treated and discriminated in the hospital by thenurses and doctors” (Thailand). In terms of education, the government only acceptslegal immigrants with working permits. Some Burmese people cannot send theirchildren off to school because they do not have permits in Thailand and they areafraid of forced deportation of their children. The Thai government needs to look atthese factors and make a change in order to help and support the lives of theBurmese migrant workers in Thailand. Due to the fact that Thailand is a better country than Burma, the Burmesemigrant workers believe that living in Thailand is better than living in Burma. TheBurmese people in Burma are forced into labor by the Myanmar governmentwithout any pay. Unlike Burma, in Thailand, the Burmese migrant workers areallowed to seek for more of a variety of jobs than in Burma and they get a salary atthe end of the day (Dennis). In Thailand, the Burmese don’t have to fear the militaryraiding their houses and forcing them to work in factories or such. Because thegovernment is controlled by the military, the military shows no sympathy towardsthe Burmese migrant workers and makes their lives harsh. Since the Thaigovernment is a constitutional monarchy, it is less likely to be corrupted thanBurma; also, the citizens own the companies not the military. This reduces thelikeliness of force labor and harassment within the work place. Not only is there fearat the work place, even in the houses of the Burmese citizens in Burma, there is fear24 hours. The Ethnic minority people living in civil war zones in Burma often have
no choice about emigrating, as they are forced to flee their homes to avoid brutalcampaigns of violence against them by the Burmese military. Due to this reason, theBurmese like the country of Thailand better. Even with the work permits, the Burmese migrant workers are not beingtreated the same as Thai workers. Burmese and Thasi work in the same industry yetthe Burmese workers get paid significantly less than the Thai people. Research hasshown that the minimum wage for Tak Province under Thai Labor Law is 135 bahtper day; however Burmese migrant workers on average make 50 to 70 baht per dayand some workers have wages as low as 30 Baht per day (Law Analysis…). Evenwith less pay than an ordinary Thai worker, the Burmese migrant workers areforced to work for a longer period of time for the same amount of money that Thaiswould recieve for working normal hours. This forced overtime, which is oftenunpaid, bares no differences from the SPDC’s of forced labor within both Burma andin Thailand. Furthermore in violation of the 1998 LPA Burmese workers are forcedto work 7 days per week and not given paid sick days (Law Analysis…). Due to thiskind of treatment, the Burmese migrant workers have wanted to quit but some areunable to because the company holds their permits captive, restricting them fromleaving the company. This causes them to stay in the company and receive unfairtreatment in the work place. Not only are they treated unequally in terms of gettingpaid, they do not receive the health benefits the company is supposed to give totheir workers such as insurance for when an injury or illness happens to theworkers. This is all because they are lacking the heath care from the industriescausing some to become sick and they don’t have the insurance to take care ofthemselves (Law Analysis…). This proves that the working permits is not enough tohelp the Burmese workers, but the government needs to step up and look into thecomplaints they have received by the migrant workers on their unequal treatmentat the work place by their employees and bosses. The people in Thailand severely abuse the human rights of the Burmeseworkers resulting in unfair treatment in the society. Not only are the citizens ofThailand abusing the rights of the migrant workers, the police are doing the sametoo. Amnesty International was told that the police stopped a 12- year old child
locally in May 2004 and when she was unable to produce a registration card, thepolice threatened to arrest her unless her father paid 1000 baht as a bribe. Thispolice behavior is typical in migrant areas in Thailand, although migrants were oftenable to bargain with the police to get a reduction in the bribe (Thailand). Also,Burmese woman at the work place often do not receive reproductive health careand so are particularly vulnerable to unplanned pregnancies and sexuallytransmitted disease from sexual harassment at the workplace (Thailand). The lastact of abuse is deportation, which has happened at a garment factory in Mae Sotwhen the Burmese Migrant workers complained for their rights. The workers werearrested and deported back to Burma as a punishment. Some received somephysical abuse such as beatings causing severe damage on their body leading todeath. When the migrant workers are deported they are transferred in vans meantto fit 8 people and they manage to fit a minimum of 30 people into the van. This leadto many deaths caused by suffocation in tight space and trampling as they exit thevan. This kind of treatment is unacceptable and should be taken care of by the Thaigovernment. Life in Thailand for BMW may be better than life in Burma, but the Thaigovernment must put more effort to protect the rights of these people.The countryof Thailand is a more suitable country for the Migrant workers because they do notface the harsh treatments that they would in their home country. But even thoughThailand is a more suitable country, efforts by the government need to me made toenhance the rights of the Burmese migrant workers in order to bring equalityamong the Thai and Burmese workers.